METEOR HAZARDS ON THE MOON — Because the Moon has no atmos-
phere, meteors would not burn themselves out, os they do when striking the
Earth, presenting on ever-present ond serious menace to operations of men
and machinery. Defense would be difficult, as some of these meteors would
weigh several tons. The illustration above shows how an avalanche could be
started by a sudden bombardment of "cold" meteors. Now see inside back
li WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION
All Stories New and Complete
Editor: JAMES L. QUDJN
Assistant Mitors: THOR L. KROGH
EVE P. WUIFF
Cover by Ken Fagg: The Old Spaceman's Tales
THE THING IN THE ATTIC by James Blish
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH by James Gunn
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST by Robert F. Young
THE SMALL WOKLD OF M-7S
by Ed. M. Clinton, Jr.
LONESOME HEARTS by Russ Winterbotham
FAIR AND WARMER by E. G. von Wold
HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLYP
by Kenneth O'Hora
THE BIG STINK by Theodore R. Cogswell
A CHAT WITH THE EDITOR
BREAKING THE TIME BARRIER by Alson J. Smith
WHAT IS YOUR SCIENCE I.Q.?
COVER PICTORIAL: Hazards of Moon Exploration |
by Ed Volioursky
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A CHAT WITH
TO UNDERSTAND the real factor
that will someday make space
travel possible, it m^ight be a good
Idea to get yourself a lot of old
newspapers and magazines and
books — say about 30 or 35 years
old— and read about the fledgling
years of aviation. These contempo-
rary accounts might be "ancient
history" now, but they were written
during the "heat of battle" and
they're as exciting to read now as
they were then. But let's see just
how these dusty chronicles and for-
gotten heroes hook up with the con-
quest of space.
The Wright Brothers had hardly
made their first flight when Amer-
ica became a scene of hell-for-
leather experiments, wildcat races,
air-minded promotions — and pro-
digious smack-ups. C. P. Rogers
made the first trans-continental
flight In 49 days. It took him seven
days to cross New York State alone.
and when he landed in Pasadena
the only parts left of his original
plane were the rudder and the oil
pan ; everything else had been
busted and replaced en route.
Then came the First World War
and the first test of aviation in com-
bat. The men who flew the "Jen-
nies" of that era were the glamor
boys of war fiction and fact. There
was Eddie Rickenbacker, ace of
the American birdmen; there was
Bishop of Canada; there was the
fabulous Red Knight of Germany^
Baron Von Richtofen and others.
And — there was the man who did
more for military aviation in the
U.S. than any other figure of his
time: William L. "Billy" Mitchell,
who waged a one-man war with all
the brass of the United States Army
and Navy in his efforts to gel them
to accept the fact that air power
was the thing of the future. He
finally won his battle and he was
awarded the Congressional Medal
of Honor — both posthumously,
Before the peace treaty of the
first great war was signed, Captain
John Alcock, an Englishman, and
Lieutenant Arthur Brown, an
American, made the first non-stop
trans-Atlantic flight, from New-
foundland to Ireland, 1980 miles In
16 hours, 12 minutes. This was on
June 15, 1919, and the 1920's
ushered in an era of barnstorming
that took on the ballyhoo and brass
of a carnival. Restless, reckless,
pilots stunted anywhere they could
get a permit or an audience ; acro-
bats performed on the wings and
landing gear of planes two or three
thousand feet in the air; follies girls
went aloft over the Great Lakes for
tea; couples got hitched while fly-
ing over their home towns or some-
where else. It was the "era of won-
derful non.scnse" and aviation was
using every gimmick in the book to
make the public air-minded and
convince folks it was safe to travel
BUT STILL, the spark necessary to
set off the emotions and imagina-
tion of the world was yet to come.
Somehow, to me, it seems that the
spark which started aviation on the
serious and commercially sound
phase of its history came when a
lonely pilot in a little single-mo-
tored monoplane flew the Atlantic.
It was on a gray, misty dawn of a
May 27 years ago when Charles
Lindbergh, a young mail pilot,
lifted "the Spirit of St. Louis" off
Roosevelt Field on Long Island and
set it down 33 /a hours and 3,600
miles later on Le Bourget Field in
A few days before Lindbergh's
flight, Nungesser and Coli, two
Frenchmen, had tried a westward
flight and had crashed and been
lost in the Atlantic. A couple of
weeks afterwards, Clarence Cham-
berlain flew from New York to Ber-
lin. A few days later Admiral Byrd
crashed off the French coast. And
the procession was on! Within a
few months, Amelia Earhart be-
came the first woman to fly the At-
lantic; Coste and Bellonte made the
first westward crossing, then there
were Charles Kingsford-Smith,
"Wrongway" Corrigan and others.
Flying the Atlantic became a fever,
and after that came the Pacific.
Then Post and Gatty flew around
the world and Admiral Byrd flew
to the South Pole. The young wings
of aviation had been tested and
they were strong.
As we go through the musty
racks of newspapers for the Thirties
we find that aviation Is still a
*'hogger" of the front pages. On
August 1, 1934, all existing records
for a transport craft were broken
by a Sikorsky seaplane which aver-
aged 157.5 miles per hour over a
1242.8 mile course. There was
Jimmy Doolittle and his pile of
speed records ; and names like
Glenn Martin, Alexander P. de
Seversky, Howard Hughes, Frank
Hawks, Hugo Eckener, Count Von
Zeppelin, Glenn Curtiss and others
loomed big in the headlines. The
Army and the Navy were fast con-
quering the Pacific, while some-
where out there Amelia Earhart,
Sir Kingsford-Smith and others
AVIATION during the Thirties
made tremendous strides. But there
were blunders, too, and the prize
blunder, which did national morale
no good at all, was made by the
Administration or Congress or
somebody in Washington who got
mad at the private airlines. With-
out preparation or advance notice
the Army was ordered to take care
of the airmail. The young pilots,
with only a few hours briefing on
night flying, knew what they were
in for, but they took over and flew
the mail In an assortment of ships
never intended for the task. They
didn't even have proper mainte-
nance for their ships, nor did they
have decent facilities for rest or
food between flights. And during
the winter of 1933-34 they carried
the mail, night and day, over
strange routes in "peashooters", cb-
(Continued on page 120)
Honatk and his fellow arch-doubters did not be-
lieve in the Giajits, and for this they were cast
into Hell. And when survival depended upon un-
wavering faith in their beliefs, they saw that there
were Giants, after all , . ,
By James Blish
Illustrated by Paul Orbon
IN THE ATTIC
It is written that after the Giants
came to Telhira from the far stars,
they abode a while, and looked up-
on the surface of the land, and
found it wanting, and of evil omen.
Therefore did they make men to
live akvays in the air and in the sun-
light, and in the light of the stars,
that he wotild be reminded of them.
And the Giants abode yet a while,
and taught men to speak, and to
write, and to weave, and to do
many things which are needful to
do, of which the writings speak.
And thereafter they departed to the
far stars, saying. Take this world as
your ozvn, and though we shall re-
turn, fear not, for it is yours.
^THE BOOK OF LAWS
HONATH the Pursemaker was
hauled from the nets an hour
before the rest of the prisoners, as
befitted his role as the arch -doubter
of them all. It was not yet dawn, but
his captors led him in great bounds
through the endless, musky-per-
fumed orchid gardens, small dark
shapes with crooked legs, hunched
shoulders, slim hairless tails carried,
like his, in concentric spirals- wound
clockwise. Behind them sprang
Honath on the end of a long tether,
timing his leaps by theirs, since any
slip would hang him summarily.
He would of course be on his way
to the surface, some 250 feet below
the orchid gardens, shortly after
dawn in any event. But not even the
arch-doubter of them all wanted to
begin the trip — not even at the mer-
ciful snap-spine end of a tether —
a moment before the law said. Go.
The looping, interwoven network
of vines beneath them, each cable
as thick through as a man's body,
bellied out and down sharply as the
leapers reached the edge of the
fern-tree forest which surrounded
the copse of fan-palms. The whole
party stopped before beginning the
descent and looked eastward, across
the dim bowl. The stars were paling
more and more rapidly ; only the
bright constellation of the Parrot
could still be picked out without
"A fine day," one of the guards
said, conversationally. "Better to go
below on a sunny day than in the
Honath shuddered and said noth-
ing. Of course it was always rain-
ing down below in Hell, that much
could be seen by a child. Even on
sunny days, the endless pinpoint
rain of transpiration, from the hun-
dred million leaves of the eternal
trees, hazed the forest air and
soaked the black bog forever.
He looked around in the bright-
ening, misty morning. The eastern
horizon was black against the limb
of the great red sun, which had al-
ready risen about a third of its di-
ameter; it was almost time for the
.small, blue-white, furiously hot con-
sort to follow. All the way to that
brink, as to every other horizon,,
the woven ocean of the treetops
flowed gently in long, unbreaking
waves, featureless as some smooth
oil. Only nearby could the eye
break that ocean into its details, in-
to the world as it was: a great,
many-tiered network, thickly over-
grown with small ferns, with air-
drinking orchids, with a thousand
varieties of fungi sprouting wher-
ever vine crossed vine and collected
a little humus for them, with the
vivid parasites sucking sap from the
vines, the trees, and even each
other. In the ponds of rain-water
collected by the closely fitting leaves
of the bromelaids, tree-toads and
peepers stopped down their hoarse
songs dubiously as the light, grew
and fell silent one by one. In the
trees below the world, the tentative
morning screeches of the lizard-
birds — the souls of the damned, or
the devils who hunted them, no one
was quite sure which — took up the
A small gust of wind whipped out
of tlie hollow above the glade of
fan-palms, making the network un-
der the party shift slightly, as if in a
loom. Honath gave with it easily,
automatically, but one of the
smaller vines toward which he had
moved one furless hand hissed at
him and went pouring away into
the darkness beneath- — a chloro-
phyll-green snake, come up out of
the dripping aerial pathways in
which it hunted in ancestral gloom,
to greet the suns and dry its scales
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
in the quiet moming. Farther be-
low, an astonished monkey, routed
out of its bed by the disgusted ser-
pent, sprang into another tree, reel-
ing off ten mortal insults, one after
the other, while still in mid-leap.
The snake, of course, paid no atten-
tion, since it did not speak the lan-
guage of men ; but the party on the
edge of the glade of fan-palms
"Bad language they favor below,"
another of the guards said. "A fit
place for you and your blasphemers,
pursemaker. Gome now."^
The tether at Honath's neck
twitched, and then his captors were
soaring in zig-zag bounds down into
the hollow toward the Judgment
Seat. He followed, since he had no
choice, the tether threatening con-
stantly to fou! his arms, legs or tail,
and — worse, far worse — making his
every mortifying movement un-
graceful. Above, the Parrot's starry
plumes flickered and faded into
the general blue.
Toward the center of the saucer
above the grove, the stitched leaf-
and-leather houses clustered thickly,
bound to the vines themselves, or
hanging from an occasional branch
too high or too slender to bear the
vines. Many of these purses Honath
knew well, not only as visitor but as
artisan. The finest of them, the in-
verted flowers which opened auto-
matically as the moming dew
bathed them, yet which could be
closed tightly and safely around
their occupants at dusk by a single
draw-string, were his own design
as well as his own handiwork. They
had been widely admired and imi-
The reputation that they had
given him, too, had helped to bring
him to the end of the snap-spine
tether. They had given weight to
his words among others — weight
enough to make him, at last, the
arch-doubter, the man who leads
the young into blasphemy, the man
who questions the Book of Laws.
And they had probably helped to
win him his passage on the Elevator
The purses were already opening
as the party swung among them.
Here and there, sleepy faces blinked
out from amid the exfoliating sec-
tions, criss-crossed by relaxing
lengths of dew-soaked rawhide.
Some of the awakening household-
ers recogni7cd Honath, of that he
was sure, but none came out to fol-
low the party — though the villagers
should be beginning to drop from
the hearts of their stitched flowers
like ripe seed-pods by this hour of
any normal day.
A Judgment was at hand, and
they knew it — and even those who
had slept the night in one of Ho-
nath's finest houses would not
speak for him now. Everyone knew,
after aJl, that Honath did not be-
lieve in the Giants.
Honath could see the Judgment
Seat itself now, a slung chair of
woven cane crowned along the back
with a row of gigantic mottled
orchids. These had supposedly been
transplanted there when the chair
was made, but no one could re-
member how old they were; .since
there were no seasons, there was no
particular reason why they should
not have been there forever. The
Seat itself was at the back of the
arena and high above it, but in
the gathering light. Honath could
make out the white-furred face of
the Tribal Spokesman, like a lone
silver-and-black pansy among the
huge vivid blooms.
At the center of the arena proper
was the Elevator itself. Honath had
seen it often enough, and had him-
self witnessed judgments where it
was called into use, but he could
still hardly believe that he was al-
most surely to be its next passenger.
It consisted of nothing more than a
large basket, deep enough so that
one would have to leap out of it,
and rimmed with thorns to prevent
one from leaping back in. Three
hempen ropes were tied to its rim,
and were then cunningly inter-
wound on a single-drum windlass of
wood, which could be turned by
two men even when the basket was
The procedure was equally sim-
ple. The condemned man was
forced into the basket, and the bas-
ket lowered out of sight, until the
slackening of the ropes indicated
that it had touched the surface.
The victim climbed out — and if he
did not, the basket remained below
until he starved or until Hel! other-
wise took care of its own — and the
windlass was rewound.
The sentences were for varying
periods of time, according to the
severity of the crime, but in practi-
cal terms this formality was empty.
Although the basket was dutifully
lowered when the sentence had ex-
pired, no one had ever been known
to get back into it. Of course, in a
world without seasons or moons,
and hence without any but an arbi-
trary year, long periods of time are
not easy to count accurately. The
basket could arrive thirty or forty
days to one side or the other of the
proper date. But this was only a
technicality, however, for if keep-
ing time was difficult in the attic
world it was probably impossible
Honath's guards tied the free end
of his tether to a branch and settled
down around him. One abstractedly
passed a pine cone to him and he
tried to occupy his mind with the
business of picking the juicy seeds
from it, but somehow they had no
More captives were being
brought in now, while the Spokes-
man watched with glittering black
eyes from his high perch. There was
Mathild the Forager, shivering as if
with ague, the fur down her left
side glistening and spiky, as though
she had inadvertently overturned a
tank plant on herself. After her was
brought Alaskon the Navigator, a
middle-aged man only a few years
younger than Honath himself; he
was tied up next to Honath, where
he settled down at once, chewing at
a joint of cane with apparent indif-
Thus far, the gathering had pro-
ceeded without more than a few
words being spoken, but that ended
when the guards tried to bring Seth
the Needlesmith from the nets. He
could be heard at once, over the
entire distance to the glade, alter-
nately chattering and shrieking in
a mixture of tones that might mean
either fear or fury. Everyone in the
glade but Alaskon turned to look,
and heads emerged from purses Hkc
new butterflies from cocoons.
A moment later, Seth's guards
came over the lip of the glade in a
tangled group, now shouting them-
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
selves. Somewhere in the middle of
the knot Seth's voice became still
louder; obviously he was clinging
with all five members to any vine or
frond he could grasp, and was no
sooner pried loose from one than
he would leap by main force, back-
wards if possible, to another. Never-
theless he was being brought inex-
orably down into the arena, two
fuet forward, one foot back, three
feet forward . . .
Honath's guards resumed picking
their pine-cones. During the dis-
turbance, Honath rcali2cd, Charl
the Reader had been brought in
quietly from the same side of the
gladc. He now sat opposite Alaskon,
looking apathetically down at the
vine-web, his shoulders hunched
forward. He exuded despair; even
to look at him made Honath feel a
From the High Seat, the Spokes-
man said : "Honath the Pursemak-
er, Alaskon the Navigator, Charl
the Reader, Seth the Needlesmith
Mathild the Forager, you are called
to answer to justice."
"Justice!" Setli shouted, spring-
ing free of his captors with a tre-
mendous bound and bringing up
with a jerk on the end of his tether.
"This is no justice! I have nothing
to do with — "
The guards caught up with him
and clamped brown hands firmly
over his mouth. The Spokesman
watched with amiuscd malice.
"The accusations are three," the
Spokesman said. "The first, the tell-
ing of lies to children. Second, the
casting into doubt of the divine or-
der among men. Third, the denial
of the Book of Laws. Each of you
may speak in order of age. Honath
the Purseniaker, your plea may be
Honath stood up, trembling a lit-
tle, but feeling a surprLsingly re-
newed surge of his old independ-
"Your charges," he said, "all rest
upon the denial of the Book of
Laws. I have taught nothing else
that is contrary to what we all be-
lieve, and called nothing else into
doubt. And I deny the charge.'*
The Spokesman looked down at
him with disbelief. "Many men and
women have said that you do not
believe in the Giants, pursemaker,"
he said. "You will not win mercy by
piling up more lies."
"I deny the charge," Honath in-
sisted. "I believe in the Book of
Laws as a whole, and I believe in
the Giants. I have taught only that
the Giants were not real in the sense
that we are real. I have taught that
they were intended as symbols of
some higher reality and were not
meant to be taken as literal per-
"What higher reality is this?" the
Spoilsman demanded. "Describe
"You ask me to do something the
writers of the Book of Laws them-
selves couldn't do," Honath said
hotly. "If they had to embody the
reality in symbols ratlier than writ-
ing it down directly, how could a
mere pursemaker do better?"
"This doctrine is wind." the
Spokesman said. "And it is plainly
intended to undercut authority and
the order established by the Book.
Tell nne, pursemaker: if men need
not fear the Giants, why should they
fear the law?"
"Because they are men, and it is
to their interest to fear the law.
They aren't children, who need
some physical Giant sitting over
them with a whip to make them be-
have. Furthermore, Spokesman, this
archaic belief itself undermines us.
As long as we believe that there are
real Giants, and that some day
they'll return and resume teaching
us, so long will we fail to seek an-
swers to our questions for ourselves.
Half of what we know was given to
us in the Book, and the other half is
supposed to drop to us from the
skies if we wait long enough. In the
meantime, we vegetate."
"If a part of the Book be untrue,
there can be nothing to prevent that
it is all untrue," the Spokesman said
heavily. "And we will lose even
what you call the half of our knowl-
edge — which is actually the whole
of it — to those who see with clear
Suddenly, Honath lost his tem-
per. "Lose it, then!" he shouted.
"Let us unlearn everything we
know only by rote, go back to the
beginning, learn all over again, and
continue to learn, from our own ex-
perience. Spokesman, you are an
old man, but there are still some of
US' who haven't forgotten what curi-
"Quiet!" the Spokesman said.
"We have heard enough. We call
on Alaskon the Navigator."
"Much of the Book is clearly un-
true," Alaskon said flatly, rising.
"As a handbook of small trades it
has served us well. As a guide to
how the universe is made, it is non-
sense, in my opinion; Honath is too
kind to it. I've made no secret of
what I think, and I still think it."
"And will pay for it," the Spokes-
man said, blinking slowly down at
Alaskon. "Charl the Reader."
"Nothing," Charl said, without
standing, or even looking up.
"You do not deny the charges?"
"I've nothing to say," Charl said,
but then, abruptly, his head jerked
up, and he glared with desperate
eyes at the Spokesman. "I can read,
Spokesman. I have seen words in
the Book of Laws that contradict
each other. I've pointed them out.
They're facts, they exist on the
pages. I've taught nothing, told no
lies, preached no unbelief. I've
pointed to the facts. That's all."
"Seth the Needlesmith, you may
The guards ■ took their hands
gratefully off Seth's mouth; they
had been bitten several times in the
process of keeping him quiet up to
now. Seth resumed shouting at once.
"I'm no part of this group! I'm
the victim of gossip, envious neigh-
bors, smiths jealous of my skill and
my custom! No man can say worse
of me than that I sold needles to
this purcsmaker — sold them in good
faith! The charges against me are
lies, all lies!"
Honath jumped to his feet in
fury, and then sat down again,
choking back the answering shout
almost without tasting its bitterness.
What did it matter? Why should he
bear witness again=it the young
man? It would not help the others,
and if Seth wanted to lie his way
out of Hell, he might as well be
given the chance.
The Spokesman was looking
down at Seth with the identical ex-
pression of outraged disbelief which
he had first bent upon Honath.
"Who was it cut the blasphemies
THE THING IN THE ATTIG
into the hardwood tree, by the
house of Hosi the Lawgiver?" he
demanded. "Sharp needles were at
■work there, and there are witnesses
to say that your hands held them."
"Needles found in your house fit
the furrows, Seth."
"They were not mine — or tliey
were stolen! I demand to be freed!"
"You will be freed," the Spokes-
man said coldly. There was no pos-
sible doubt as to what he meant.
Seth began to weep and to shout at
the same time. Hands closed over
his mouth again. "Mathild the For-
ager, your plea may be heard."
The young woman stood up hesi-
tantly. Her fur was nearly dry now,
but she was still shivering.
"Spokesman," she said, "I saw
the things which Charl the Reader
showed me. I doubted, but what
Honath said restored my belief. I
see no harm in his teachings. They
remove doubt, instead of fostering
it as you say they do. I see no evil
in them, and I don't understand
why this is a crime."
Honath looked over to her with
new admiration. The Spokesman
"I am sorry for you," he said,
"but as Spokesman we cannot al-
low ignorance of the law as a plea.
We will be merciful to you all, how-
ever. Renounce your heresy, affirm
your belief in the Book as it is writ-
ten from bark to bark, and you shall
be no more than cast out of the
"I renounce it!" Seth cried. "I
never shared it! It's all blasphemy
and every word is a lie ! I believe in
the Book, all of it!"
"You, needlesmith," the Spokes-
man said, "have lied before this
Judgment, and are probably lying
now. You are not included in the
"Snake-spotted caterpillar! May
your — ummulph."
"Pursemakcr, what is your an-
"It is No," Honath said stonily.
"I've spoken the truth. The truth
can't be unsaid."
The Spokesman looked down at
the rest of them. "As for you three,
consider your answers carefully. To
share the heresy means sharing the
sentence. The penalty will not be
lightened only because you did not
invent the heresy."
There was a long silence.
Honath swallowed hard. The
courage and the faith in that silence
made him feel smaller and more
helpless than ever. He reali2ed sud-
denly that the other three would
have kept that silence, even with-
out Seth's defection to stiffen their
spines. He wondered if he could
have done so.
"Then we pronounce the sen-
tence," the Spokesman said. "You
are one and all condemned to one
thousand days in Hell."
There was a concerted gasp from
around the edges of the arena,
where, without Honath's having no-
ticed it before, a silent crowd had
gathered. He did not wonder at the
sound. The sentence was the longest
in the history of the tribe.
Not that it really meant anything.
No one had ever come back from
as little as one hundred days in
Hell. No one had ever come back
from Hell at all.
"Unlash the Elevator. All shall go
THE BASKET swayed. The last
of the attic world that Honath
saw was a circle of faces, not too
close to the gap in the vine web,
peering down after them. Then the
basket fell another few yards to
the next turn of the windlass
and the faces vanished.
Seth was weeping in the bottom
of the Elevator, curled up into a
tight ball, the end of his tail
wrapped around his nose and eyes.
No one else could make a sound,
least of Honath.
The gloom closed around them.
It seemed extraordinarily still. The
occasional harsh screams of a lizard-
bird somehow distended the silence
without breaking it. The light that
filtered down into the long aisles
between the trees seemed to be ab-
sorbed in a blue-green haze through
which the lianas wove their long
curved lines. The columns of tree-
trunks, the pillars of the world,
stood all around them, too distant
in the dim light to allow them to
gauge their speed of descent. Only
the irregular plunges of the basket
proved that it was even in motion
any longer, though it swayed lat-
erally in a complex, overlapping
series of figure-eights.
Then the basket lurched down-
ward once more, brought up short,
and tipped sidewise, tumbling them
all against the hard cane. Mathild
cried out in a thin voice, and Seth
uncurled almost instantly, clawing
for a handhold. Another lurch, and
the Elevator lay down on its side
and was still.
They were in Hell.
Cautiously, Honath began to
climb out, picking his way over the
long thorns on the basket's rim.
After a moment, Charl the Reader
followed, and then Alaskon took
Mathild firmly by the hand and led
her out onto the surface. The foot-
ing was wet and spongy, yet not at
all resilient, and it felt cold; Ho-
nath's toes curled involuntarily.
"Come on, Seth," Charl said in a
hushed voice. "They won't haul it
back up until we're all out. You
Alaskon looked around into the
chilly mists. "Yes," he said. "And
we'll need a needlesmith down here.
With good tools, there's just a
chance — "
Seth's eyes had been darting back
and forth from one to the other.
With a sudden chattering scream,
he bounded out of the bottom of
the basket, soaring ovef their heads
in a long, flat leap and struck the
high knee at the base of the nearest
tree, an immense fan palm. As he
hit, his legs doubled under him, and
almost in the same motion he
seemed to rocket straight up into
the murky air.
Gaping, Honath looked up after
him. The young needlesmith had
timed his course to the split second.
He was already darting up the rope
from which the' Elevator was sus-
pended. He did not even bother to
After a moment, the basket
tipped upright. The impact of
Seth's weight hitting the rope evi-
dently had been taken by the wind-
lass team to mean that the con-
demned people were all out on the
surface; a twitch on the rope was
the usual signal. The basket began
to rise, hobbling and dancing. Its
speed of ascent, added to Seth's
took his racing, dwindling figure
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
out of sight quickly. After a while,
the basket was gone, too.
"He'll never get to the top," Ma-
thild whispered. "It's too far, and
he's going too fast. He'U lose
strength and fall."
"I don't think so," Alaskon said
heavily. "He's agile and strong. If
anyone could make it, he could."
"They'll kill him if he docs."
"Of course they will," Alaskon
"I won't miss him," Honath said.
"No more will I. But we could
use some sharp needles down here,
Honath. Now we'll have to plan to
make our own — if we can identify
the difTerent woods, down here
where there aren't any leaves to
help us tell them apart."
Honath looked at the navigator
curiously. Seth's bolt for the sky
had distracted him from the realiza-
tion that the basket, too, was gone,
but now that desolate fact hit
home. "You actually plan to stay
alive in Hell, don't you, Alaskon?"
"Certainly," Alaskon said calm-
ly. "This is no more Hell than — up
there — is Heaven. It's the surface of
the planet, no more, no less. We
can stay alive if we don't panic.
Were you just going to sit here un-
til tlie furies came for you, Ho-
"I hadn't thought much about
it," Honath confessed. "But if there
is any chance that Seth will lose his
grip on that rope — before he
reaches the top and they stab him —
shouldn't we wait and see if we can
catch him? He can't weigh more
than 35 pounds. Maybe we could
contrive some sort of a net — "
"He'd just break our bones along
with his," Charl said. "I'm for get-
ting out of here as fast as possible."
"What for? Do you know a bet-
"No, but whether this is Hell or
not, there are demons down here.
We've all seen them from up above.
They must know that the Elevator
always lands here and empties out
free food. This must be a feeding-
ground for them — "
He had not quite finished speak-
ing when the branches began to
sigh and toss, far above. A gust of
stinging droplets poured along the
blue air and thunder rumbled. Ma-
"It's only a squall coming up,"
Honath said. But the words came
out in a series of short croaks. As
the wind had moved through the
trees, Hon ath had automa tically
flexed his knees and put his arras
out for handholds, awaiting the
long wave of response to pass
through the ground beneath him.
But nothing happened. The surface
under his feet remained stolidly
where it was, flexing not a fraction
of an inch in any direction. And
there was nothing nearby for his
hands to grasp.
He staggered, trying to compen-
sate for the failure of the ground
to move. At the same moment an-
other gust of wind blew through the
aisles, a little stronger than the
first, and calling insistently for a
new adjustment of his body to the
waves which would be passing
among the treetops. Again the
squashy surface beneath him re-
fused to respond. The familiar give-
and-take of the vine-web to the
winds, a part of his world as accus-
tomed as the winds themselves, was
Honath was forced to sit down,
feeling distinctly ill. The damp^ cool
earth under his furlcss buttocks was
unpleasant, but he could not have
remained standing any longer with-
out losing his meagre prisoner's
breakfast. One grappling hand
caught hold of the ridged, gritting
stems of a clump of horsetail, but
the contact failed to allay the un-
The others seemed to be bearing
it no better than Honath. Mathild
in particular was rocking dizzily,
her lips compressed, her hands
clasped to her delicate ears.
Dizziness. It was unheard of up
above, except among those who had
suffered grave head injuries or were
otherwise very ill. But on the mo-
tionless ground of Hell, it was evi-
dently going to be with them con-
Charl squatted, swallowing con-
vulsively. "I — I can't stand," he
"Nonsense !"Alaskon saidj though
he had remained standing only by
clinging to the huge, mud-colored
bulb of a cycadella. "It's just a dis-
turbance of our sense of balance.
We'll get used to it."
"We'd better," Honath said, re-
linquishing his grip on the horse-
tails by a sheer act of will. "I think
Charl's right about this being a
feeding-ground, Alaskon. I hear
something moving around in the
ferns. And if this rain lasts long, the
water will rise here, too. I've seen
silver flashes from down here many
a time after heavy rains."
"That's right." Mathild said, her
voice subdued. "The base of the
fan-palm grove always floods. That's
why the treetops are lower there,"
The wind seemed to have let up
a little, though the rain was still
falling. Alaskon stood up tentative-
ly and looked around.
"Then let's move on," he said.
"If we try to keep under cover un-
til we get to higher ground — "
A faint crackling sound, high
above his head, interrupted him.
It got louder. Feeling a sudden
spasm of pure fear, Honath looked
Nothing could be seen for an in-
stant but the far-away curtain of
branches and fern fronds. TheUj
with shocking suddenness, some-
thing plummeted through the blue-
green roof and came tumbling to-
ward them. It was a man, twisting
and tumbling through the air with
grotesque slowness, like a child
turning in its sleep. They scattered.
The body hit the ground with a
sodden thump, but there were sharp
overtones to the sound, like the
bursting of a gourd. For a moment
nobody moved. Then Honath crept
It had been Seth, as Honath had
realized the moment the figurine
had burst through the branches, far
above. But it had not been the fall
that had killed him. He had been
run through by at least a dozen
needles — some of them, beyond
doubt, tools from his own shop,
their points edged hair-fine by his
own precious strops of leatherwood-
There would be no reprieve from
above. The sentence was one thou-
sand days. This burst and broken
huddle of fur was the only alterna-
And the first day had barely be-
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
THEY TOILED all the rest of
the day to reach higher ground.
As they stole cautiously closer to the
foothills of the Great Range and
the ground became firmer, they
were able to take to the air for short
stretches, but they were no sooner
aloft among the willows than the
lizard-birds came squalling down
on them by the dozens, fighting
among each other for the privilege
of nipping these plump and incredi-
bly slow-moving monkeys.
No man^ no matter how con-
firmed a free-thinker, could have
stood up under such an onslaught
by the creatures he had been taught
as a child to think of as his ances-
tors. The first time it happened,
every member of the party dropped
like a pinc-cone to the sandy ground
and lay paralyzed under the nearest
cover, until the brindle-feathered,
fan-tailed screamers tired of flying
in such tight circles and headed for
clearer air. Even after the lizard-
birds had given Up, they crouched
quietly for a long time, waiting to
see what greater demons might have
been attracted by the commotLon.
Luckily, on the higher ground
there was much more cover from
low-growing shrubs and trees — pal-
metto, sassafras, several kinds of
laurel, magnolia, and a great many
sedges. Up here, too, the endless
jungle began to break around the
bases of the great pink cliffs. Over-
head were welcome vistas of open
sky, skctchily crossed by woven
bridges leading from the vine-world
to the cliffs themselves. In the inter-
vening columns of blue air a whole
hierarchy of flying creatures ranked
themselves, layer by layer. First, the
low-flying beetles, bees and two-
winged insects. Next were the drag-
onflies which hunted them, some
with wingsprcads as wide as two
feet. Then the lizard-birds, hunting
the dragonfiies and anything else
that could be nipped without fight-
ing back. And at last, far above, the
great gliding reptiles coasting along
the brows of the cliffs, riding the
rising currents of air. their long-
jawed hunger stalking anything
that flew — as they sometimes stalked
the birds of the attic world, and the
flying fish along the breast of the
The party halted in an especially
thick clump of sedges. Though the
rain continued to fall, harder than
ever, they were all desperately
thirsty. They had yet to find a sin-
gle bromelaid; evidently the tank-
plants did not grow in Hell. Cup-
ping their hands to the weeping sky
accumulated surprisingly little wa-
ter; and no puddles large enough
to drink from accumulated on the
sand. But at least, here under the
open sky, there was too much fierce
struggle in the air to allow the liz-
ard-birds to congregate and squall
about their hiding place.
The white sun had already set
and the red sun 's vast arc stil I
bulged above the horizon. In the
lurid glow the rain looked like
blood, and the seamed faces of the
pink cliffs had all but vanished.
Honath peered dubiously out from
under the sedges at the still dis-
"I don't see how we can hope to
climb those," he said, in a low voice.
"That kind of limestone crumbles
as soon as you touch it, otherwise
we*d have had better luck with our
war against the clifF tribe.*'
"We could go around the cUffs,"
Charl said. "The foothills of the
Great Range aren't very steep. If
we could last until we get to them,
we could go on up into the Range
"To the volcanoes !" Mathild pro-
tested. "But nothing can live up
there, nothing but the white fire-
things. And there are the lava-fiows,
too, and the choking smoke — "
"Well, we can't climb these clifTs,
Honath's quite right," Alaskon said.
"And we can't climb the Basalt
Steppes, either — there's nothing to
eat along them, let alone any water
or cover. I don't see what else we
can do but try to get up into the
"Can't we stay here?" Mathild
"No," Honath said, even more
gently than he had intended. Ma-
thild's four words were, he knew,
the most dangerous words in Hell —
he knew it quite surely, because of
the imprisoned creature inside him
that cried out to say "Yes" instead.
"We have to get out of the country
of the demons. And maybe — just
maybe — if we can cross the Great
Range, we can join a tribe that
hasn't heard about our being con-
demned to Hell. There are sup-
posed to be tribes on the other side
of the Range, but the cliff people
would never let our folk get through
to them. That's on our side now."
"That's true," Alaskon said,
brightening a little. "And from the
top of the Range, we could come
down into another tribe — instead
of trying to climb up into their vil-
lage out of Hell. Honath, I think
it might work."
"Then we'd better try to sleep
right here and now," Charl said. "It
seems safe enough. If we're going
to skirt the cliffs and climb those
foothills, we'll need all the strength
we've got left."
Honath was about to protest, but
he was suddenly too tired to care.
Why not sleep it over? And if in
the night they were found and taken
— well, that would at least put an
end to the struggle.
It was a cheerless and bone-damp
bed to sleep in, but there was no
alternative. They curled up as best
they could. Just before he was about
to drop off at last, Honath heard
Mathild whimpering to herself and,
on impulse, crawled over to her and
began to smooth down her fur with
his tongue. To his astonishment
each separate, silky hair was loaded
with dew. Long before the girl had
curled herself more tightly and her
complaints had dwindled into
sleepy murmurs, Honath's thirst
was assuaged. He reminded himself
to mention the method in the morn-
But when the white sun finally
came up, there was no time to think
of thirst. Charl the Reader was
gone. Something had plucked him
from their huddled midst as neatly
as a fallen breadfruit — and had
dropped his cleaned ivory skull just
as negligently, some two hundred
feet farther on up the slope which
led toward the pink cliffs.
LATE THAT afternoon, the
three found the blue, turbulent
stream flowing out of the foothills
of the Great Range. Not even Alas-
kon knew quite what to make of it.
It looked like water, but it flowed
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
like the rivers of lava that crept
downward from the volcanoes.
Whatever else it could be, obviously
it \vasn't water ; water stood, it
never flowed. Il was possible to
imagine a still body of water as big
as this, but only in a Tnoment of
fancy, an exagfrcration derived from
the known bodif»s of water in the
tank-plants. But this much water in
motion? It suggested pythons; it
was probably poisonous. It did not
occur to any of them to drink from
it. They %vere afraid even to touch
it, let atone cross it, for it was al-
most surely as; hot as the other kinds
of lava-rivers. They followed its
course cautiously into the foothills,
their throats as dry and gritty as the
hollow stems of horsetails.
Except for the thirst — which was
in an inverted sense their friend,
insofar as it overrode the hunger —
the climhing was not difficult. It
was only circuitous, because of the
need to stay under cover, to recon-
noiter every few yards, to choose
the most sheltered course rather
than the most direct. By an un-
spoken consent, none of the three
mentioned Gharl, but their eyes
were constantly darting from side to
side, searching for a glimpse of the
thing that had taken him.
That was perhaps the worst, the
most terrifying part of the tragedy:
not once, since they had been in
Hell, had they actually seen a de-
mon — or even any animal as large
as a man. The enormous, three-
taloned footprint they had found in
the sand beside their previous
night's bed— the spot where the
thing had stood, looking down at
the four sleepers from above, coldly
deciding which of them to seize —
was the only evidence they had that
they were now really in the same
world with the demons. The world
of the demons they had sometimes
looked down upon from the remote
The footprint — and the skull.
By nightfall, they had ascended
perhaps a hundred and fifty feet.
'It was difficult to judge distances
in the twilight, and the token vine
bridges from the attic world to the
pink cliffs were now cut off from
sight by the Intervening masses of
the clifis themselves. But there was
no possibility that they could climb
higher today. Although Mathild
had born the climb surprisingly
well, and Honath himself still felt
almost fresh, Alaskon was complete-
ly winded. He had taken a bad cut
on one hip from a serrated spike of
volcanic glass against which he had
stumbled. The wound, bound with
leaves to prevent its leaving a spoor
which might be followed, evidently
was becoming steadil>- more painful.
Honath finally called a halt as
soon as they reached the little ridge
with the cave in back of it. Helping
Alaskon over the last boulders, he
was astonished to discover how hot
the navigator's hands were. He took
him back into the cave and then
came out onto the ledge again.
"He's really sick," he told Ma-
thild in a low voice. *'He needs wa-
ter, and another dressing for that
cut. And wcVc got to get both for
him somehow. If we ever get to the
jungle on the other side of the
Range, we'll need a navigator even
worse than we need a needlesmith."
"But how? I could dress the cut
if I had the materials, Honath. But
there's no water up here. It's a des-
ert; we'll never get across it."
"We've got to try. I can get him
water, I think. There was a big cy-
cladella on the slope we came up,
just before we passed that obsidian
spur that hurt Alaskon. Gourds that
size usually have a fair amount of
water inside them and I can use a
piece of the spur to rip it open — "
A small hand came out of the
darkness and took him tightly by
the elbow. "Honath, you can't go
back down there. Suppose the de-
mon that — that took Charl is still
following us? They hunt at night
— and this country is all so
strange . . ."
"I can find my way. I'll follow
the sound of the stream of blue lava
or whatever it is. You pull some
fresh leaves for Alaskon and try to
make him comfortable. Better loos-
en those vines around the dressing
a little. I'll be back."
He touched her hand and pried it
loose gently. Then, without stopping
to think about it any further, he
slipped off the ledge and edged to-
ward the sound of the stream, trav-
elling crabwise on all fours.
But he was swiftly lost. The night
was thick and completely impene-
trable, and he found that the noise
of the stream seemed to come from
all sides, providing him no guide at
all. Furthermore, his memory of the
ridge which led up to the cave ap-
peared to be faulty, for he could
feel it turning sharply to the right
beneath him, though he remem-
bered distinctly that it had been
straight past the first side-branch,
and then had gone to the left. Or
had he passed the first side-branch
in the dark without seeing it? He
probed the darkness cautiously with
At the same instant, a brisk, stac-
cato gust of wind came whirling up
out of the night across the ridge.
Instinctively, Honath shifted his
weight to take up the flexing of the
ground beneath him.
He realized his error instantly
and tried to arrest the complex set
of motions, but a habit-pattern so
deeply ingrained could not be frus-
trated completely. Overwhelmed
with vertigo, Honath grappled at
the empty air with hands, feet and
tail and went toppling.
An instant later, with a familiar
noise and an equally familiar cold
shock that seemed to reach through-
out his body, he was sitting in the
midst of —
Water. Icy water. Water that
rushed by him improbably with a
menacing, monkeylike chattering,
but water all the same.
It was all he could do to repress
a hoot of hysteria. He hunkered
down into the stream and soaked
himself. Things nibbled delicately
at his calves as he bathed, but he
had no reason to fear fish, small
species of which often showed up
in the tanks of the bromelaids. After
lowering his muzzle to the rushing,
invisible surface and drinking his
fill, he ducked himself completely
and then clambered out onto the
banks, carefully neglecting to shake
Getting back to the ledge was
much less difficult. "Mathild?" he
called in a hoarse whisper. *'Math-
ild, we've got water."
"Come in here quick then. Alask-
on's worse. I'm afraid, Honath."
Dripping, Honath felt his way
into the cave. "I don't have any
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
container. I Just got myself wet —
you'll have to sit him up and let
him lick my fur."
"I'm not sure he can."
But Alaskon could, feebly, but
sufficiently. Even tlie coldness of
the water — a totally new experience
for a man who had never drunk
anything but the soup-warm con-
tents of the bromelaids — seemed to
help him. He lay back at last, and
said in a weak but otherwise normal
voice: "So the stream was water
"Yes," Honath said. "And there
are fish in it, too."
"Don't talk," Mathild said.
"I'm resting. Honath, if we stick
to the course of the stream , . .
Where was I? Oh. We can follow
the stream through the Range, now
that we know it's water. How did
you find that out?"
*'I lost iny balance and fell into
Alaskon chuckled. "Hell's not so
bad, is it?" he said. Then he sighed,
and rushes creaked under him,
"Mathild! What's the matter? Is
he — did he die?"
"No . . . no. He's breathing. He's
still sicker than he realizes, that's
all . . . Honath — if they'd known,
up above, how much courage you
have — "
"I was scared white," Honath
said grimly. "I'm still scared."
But her hand touched his again
in the solid blackness, and after he
had taken it, he felt irrationally
cheerful. With Alaskon breathing
so raggedly behind them, there was
little chance that cither of them
would be able to sleep that night;
but they sat silently together on the
hard stone In a kind of temporary
peace. When the mouth of the cave
began to outline itself with the first
glow of the red sun, they looked at
each other in a conspiracy of light
all their own.
Let us unlearn everything we
knew only by rote, go back to the
beginning, learn all over again, and
continue to learn . . .
With the first light of the white
sun, a half-grown megatherium cub
rose slowly from its crouch at the
mouth of the cave and stretched
luxuriously, showing a full set of
saber-like teeth. It looked at them
steadily for a moment, its ears alert,
then turned and loped away down
How long it had been crouched
there listening to them, it was im-
possible to know. They had been
lucky that they had stumbled into
the lair of a youngster. A full-grown
animal would have killed thcin all,
within a few seconds after its cat's-
eyes had collected enough dawn to
identify them positively. The cub,
since it had no family of its own,
evidently had only been puzzled to
find its den occupied and didn't
want to quarrel about it.
The departure of the big cat left
Honath frozen, not so much fright-
ened as simply stunned by so un-
expected an end to the vigil. At the
first moan from Alaskon, however,
Mathild was up and walking softly
to the navigator^ speaking in a low
voice, sentences which made no
particular sense and perhaps were
not intended to. Honath stirred and
Halfway back Into the cave, his
foot struck something and he looked
down. It was the thigh-bone of
some medium-large animalj imper-
fectly cleaned and not very recent.
It looked like a keepsake the mega-
therium had hoped to save from the
usurpers of its lair. Along a curved
inner surface there was a patch of
thick grey mold. Honath squatted
and peeled it off carefully.
"Mathild, we can put this over
the wound," he said. "Some molds
help prevent wounds from fester-
ing . . . How is he?"
"Better, I think," Mathild mur-
mured. "But he's still feverish. I
don't think we'll be able to move on
Honath was unsure whether to
be pleased or disturbed. Certainly
he was far from anxious to leave
the cave, where they seemed at
least to be reasonably comfortable.
Possibly they would also be reason-
ably safe, for the low-roofed hole
almost surely still smelt of mega-
therium, and intruders would rec-
ognize the smell — as the men from
the attic world could not — and keep
their distance. They would have no
way of knowing that the cat had
only been a cub and that it had va-
cated the premises, though of
course the odor would fade before
Yet it was important to move on,
to cross the Great Range if possible,
and in the end to wind their way
back to the world where they be-
longed. And to win vindication, no
matter how long it took. Even
should it prove relatively easy to
survive in Hell — and there were
few signs of that, thus far — the only
proper course was to fight until the
attic world was totally regained.
After all, it would have been the
easy and the comfortable thing.
back there at the very beginning, to
have kept one's incipient heresies
to oneself and remained on comfort-
able terms with one's neighbors. But
Honath had spoken up, and so had
the rest of them, in their fashions.
It was the ancient internal battle
between what Honath wanted to
do, and what he knew he ought to
do. He had never heard of Kant
and the Categorical Imperative, but
he knew well enough which side of
his nature would win in the long
run. But it had been a cruel joke
of heredity which had fastened a
sense of duty onto a lazy nature. It
made even small decisions egre-
But for the moment at least, the
decision was out of his hands. Alask-
on was too sick to be moved. In
addition, the strong beams of sun-
light which had been glaring in
across the floor of the cave were
dimming by the instant, and there
was a distant, premonitory growl
"Then we'll stay here," he said.
*'It's going to rain again, and hard
this time. Once it's falling in earn-
est, T can go out and pick us some
fruit — it'll screen me even if any-
thing is prowling around in it. And
I won't have to go as far as the
stream for water, as long as the rain
The rain, as it turned out, kept
up all day, in a growing downpour
which completely curtained the
mouth of the cave by early after-
noon. The chattqring of the nearby
stream grew quickly to a roar.
By evening, Alaskon's fever
seemed to have dropped almost to
normal, and his strength nearly re-
turned as well. The wound, thanks
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
more to the encrusted matte of
mold than to any complications
within the flesh itself, was still ugly-
looking, but it was now painful only
when the navigator moved careless-
ly, and Mathild was convinced that
it was mending. Alaskon himself,
having been deprived of activity all
day, was unusually talkative.
"Has it occurred to either of
you,'* he said in the gathering
gloom, "that since that stream is
water, it can't possibly be coming
from the Great Range? All the
peaks over there are just cones of
ashes and lava. We've seen young
volcanoes in the process of building
themselves, so we're sure of that.
What's more, they're usually hot. I
don't see how there could possibly
be any source of water in the Range
— not even run-oflF from the rains."
"It can't just come up out of the
ground," Honath said. "It must be
fed by rain. By the way it sounds
now, it could even be the first part
of a flood." ,
"As you say, it's probably rain-
water/' Alaskon said cheerfully.
"But not off the Great Range, that's
out of the question. Most likely it
collects on the cliffs."
"I hope you're wrong," Honath
said. "The cliffs may be a little
easier to climb from this side, but
there's still the cliff tribe to think
"Maybe, maybe. But the cliffs are
big. The tribes on this side may
never have heard of the war with
our tree-top folk. No, Honath, I
think that's our only course."
"If it is," Honath said grimly,
*''we're going to wish more than ever
that we had some stout, sharp
needles among us."
ALASKON'S judgment was
quickly borne out. The three
left the cave at dawn the next
morning, Alaskon moving some-
what stiffly but not otherwise notice-
ably incoiiuiioded, and resumed fol-
lowing the stream bed upwards — a
stream now swollen by the rains to
a roaring rapids. After winding its
way upwards for about a mile in
the general direction of the Great
Range, the stream turned on itself
and climbed rapidly back toward
the basalt cliffs, falling toward the
three over successively steeper
shelves of jutting rock.
Then it turned again, at right
angles, and the three found them-
selves at the exit of a dark gorge,
little more than thirty feet high,
but both narrow and long. Here the
stream was almost perfectly smooth^
and the thin strip of land on each
side of it was covered with low
shrubs. They paused and looked
dubiously into the canyon. It was
"There's plenty of cover, at
least,*' Honath said In a low voice.
"But almost anything could live in
a place like that."
"Nothing very big could hide in
it," Alaskon pointed out. "It should
be safe. Anyhow it's the only way
"All right. Let's go ahead, then.
Bttt keep your head down, and be
ready to jump!"
Honath lost the other two by
sight as soon as they crept into the
dark shrubbery, but he could hear
their cautious movements nearby.
Nothing else in the gorge seemed to
move at all, not even the water,
which flowed without a ripple over
an Invisible bed. There was not
even any wind, for which Honath
was grateful, although he had be-
gun to develop an immunity to the
motionless ground beneath them.
After a few moments, Honath
heard a low whistle. Creeping side-
wise toward the source of the sound,
he nearly bumped into Alaskon,
who was crouched beneath a thick-
ly-spreading magnolia. An instant
later, Mathilda's face peered out of
the dim greenery.
"Look,'* Alaskon whispered.
"What do you make of this?"
'This' was a hollow in the sandy
soil^ about four feet across and
rimmed with a low parapet of earth
— evidently the same earth that had
been scooped out of its center. Oc-
cupying most of it were three grey,
ellipsoidal objects, smooth and fea-
"Eggs," Mathild said wonder-
"Obviously. But look at the size
of them! Whatever laid them must
be gigantic. I think we're trespass-
ing in something's private valley."
Mathild drew in her breath,
fionath thought fast, as much to
prevent panic in liimself as In the
girl. A sharp-edged stone lying near-
by provided the answer. He seized
it and struck.
The outer surface of the egg was
leathery rather than brittle; it tore
raggedly. Deliberately, Honath
bent and put his mouth to the ooz-
It was excellent. The flavor was
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
decidedly stronger than that of
birds' eggs, but he was far too hun-
gry to be squeamish. After a mo-
ment's amazement, Alaskon and
Mathild attacked the other two
ovoids with a will. It was the first
really satisfying meal they had had
in Hell. When they finally moved
away from the devastated nest,
Honath felt better than he had since
the day he was arrested.
As they moved on down the
gorge, they began again to hear the
roar of water, though the stream
looked as placid as ever. Here, too,
they saw the first sign of active life
in the valley; a flight of giant drag-
onfiies skimming over the water.
The insects took fright as soon as
Honath showed himself, but quick-
ly came back, their nearly non-exis-
tent brains already convinced that
there had always been men in the
The roar got louder very rapidly.
When the three rounded the long,
gentle turn which had cut off their
view from the exit, the source of the
roar came into view. It was a sheet
of falling water as tall as the depth
of the gorge itself, which came
arcing out from between two pillars
of basalt and fell to a roiling, froth-
"This is as far as we go!" Alaskon
said, shouting to make himself
heard over the tumult. "We'll never
be able to get up these walls!"
Stunned, Honath looked from
side to side. What Alaskon had said
was all too obviously true. The
gorge evidently had begun life as
a layer of soft, partly soluble stone
in the cliffs, tilted upright by some
volcanic upheaval, and then worn
completely away by the rushing
stream. Both cliff faces were of the
harder rock, and were sheer and as
smooth as if they had been polished
by hand. Here and there a network
of tough vines had begun to climb
them, but nowhere did such a net-
work even come close to reaching
Honath turned and looked oilce
more at the great arc of water and
spray. If there were only some way
to prevent their being forced to re-
trace their steps —
Abruptly, over the riot of the
falls, there was a piercing, hissing
shriek. Echoes picked it up and
sounded it again and again, all the
way up the battlements of the cliffs.
Honath sprang straight up in the
air and came down trembling, fac-
ing away from the pool.
At first he could see nothing.
Then, down at the open end of the
turn, there was a huge flurry of m.o-
A second later, a two-legged,
blue-green reptile half as tall as the
gorge itself came around the turn
in a single bound and lunged vio-
lently into the far wall of the valley.
It stopped as if momentarily
stunned, and the great grinning
head turned toward them a face of
sinister and furious idiocy.
The shriek set the air to boiling
again. Balancing itself with its heavy
tail, the beast lowered its head and
looked redly toward the falls.
The owner of the robbed ne,st had
come home. They had met a demon
of Hell at last.
Honath's mind at that instant
went as white and blank as the
under-bark of a poplar. He acted
without thinking, without even
knowing what he did. When
thought began to creep back into his
head again, the three of them were
standing shivering in semidarkncss,
watching the blurred shadow of the
demon lurcliing back and forth up-
on the screen of shining water.
It had been nothing but hick,
not foreplanning, to find that there
was a considerable space between
the back of the falls proper and the
blind wall of the canyon. It had
been luck, too, which had forced
Honath to skirt the pool in order
to reach the falls at all, and thus
had taken them all behind the silver
curtain at the point where the
weight of the falling water was too
low to hammer them down for
good. And it had been the blindest
stroke of all that the demon had
charged after them directly into the
poo!, where the deep, boiling water
had slowed its thrashing hind legs
enough to halt it before it went un-
der the falls, as it had earlier blun-
dered into the hard wall of the
Not an iota of all this had been
in Honath's mind before he had dis-
covered it to be true. At the moment
that the huge reptile had screamed
for the second time, he had simply
grasped Matluld's hand and broken
for the falls, leaping from low tree
to shrub to fern faster than he had
ever leapt before. He did not stop
to see how well Mathild was keep-
ing up with him. or whether or not
Alaskon was following. He only
ran. He might have screamed^ too;
he could not remember.
They stood now, all three of
them, wet through, behind the cur-
tain until the shadow of the demon
faded and vanished. Finally Honath
felt a hand thumping his shoulder,
and turned slowly.
Speech was impossible here, but
Alaskon's pointing finger was elo-
quent enough. Along the back wall
of the falls, where centuries of
erosion had failed to wear away
completely the ori,5inaI soft lime-
stone, there was a sort of serrated
chunney, open toward the gorge,
which looked as though it could be
climbed. At the top of the falls, the
water shot out from between the
basalt pillars in a smooth, almost
solid-looking tube, arching at least
six feet before beginning to break
into the fan of spray and rainbows
which poured down into the gorge.
Once the chimney had been
climbed, it should be possible to
climb out from under the falls with-
out passing through the water
And after that — ?
Abruptly, Honath grinned. He
felt weak all through with reac-
tion, and the face of the demon
would probably be grinning in his
dreams for a long time to come. But
at the same time he could not
repress a surge of irrational con-
fidence. He gestured upward jaunt-
ily, shook himself, and loped
forward into the throat of the chim-
Hardly more than an hour later
they were all standing on a ledge
overlooking the gorge, with the wa-
terfall creaming over the brink next
to them, only a few yards away.
From here, it was evident that the
gorge itself was only the bottom of
a far greater cleft, a split in the
pink-and-grey clifTs as sharp as
though it had been riven in the rock
by a bolt of sheet lightning. Beyond
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
the basalt pillars from which the
fall issued, however, the stream
foamed over a long ladder of rock
shelves which seemed to lead
straight up into the sky.
"That way?" Mathild said.
"Yes, and as fast as possible,"
Alaskon said, shading his eyes. "It
must be late. I don't think the light
will last much longer."
"We'll have to go single file,
Honath added. "And we'd better
keep hold of each other's hands.
One slip on those wet steps and —
it's a long way down again."
Mathild shuddered and took
Honath's hand convulsively. To his
astonishment, the next instant she
was tugging him toward the basalt
The irregular patch of deepening
violet sky grew slowly as they
climbed. They paused often, cling-
ing to the jagged escarpments until
their breath came back, and snatch-
ing icy water in cupped palms from
the stream that fell down the ladder
beside them. There was no way to
tell how far up into the dusk the
way had taken them, but Honath
suspected that they were already
somewhat above the level of their
own vine-web world. The air
smelled colder and sharper than it
ever had above the jungle.
The final cut in the cliffs through
which the stream fell was another
chimney. It was steeper and more
smooth-walled than the one which
had taken them out of the gorge
under the waterfall, but narrow
enough to be cUmbed by bracing
one's back against one side, and
one's hands and feet against the
other. The column of air inside the
chimney was filled with spray, but
in Hell that was too minor a dis-
comfort to bother about.
At long last Honath heaved him-
self over the edge of the chimney
onto flat rock, drenched and ex-
hausted, but filled with an elatton
he could not suppress and did not
want to. They were above the attic
jungle; they had beaten HcU itself.
He looked around to make sure that
Mathild was safe, and then reached
a hand down to Alaskon. The navi-
gator's bad leg had been giving him
trouble. Honath heaved mightily
and Alaskon came heavily over the
edge and lit sprawling on the high
The stars were out. For a while
they simply sat and gasped for
breath. Then they turned, one by
one, to see where they were.
There was not a great deal to see.
There was the mesa, domed with
stars on all sides and a shining,
finned spindle, like a gigantic min-
now, pointing skyward in the center
of the rocky plateau. And around
the spindle, indistinct in the star-
light . . .
. . . Around the shining minnow,
tending it, were Giants.
THIS, THEN, was the end of the
battle to do what was right,
whatever the odds. All the show of
courage against superstition, all the
black battles against Hell itself,
came down to this: The Giants
They were unarguably real .
Though they were twice as tall as
men, stood straighter, had broader
shoulders, were heavier across the
seat and had no visible tails, their
fellowship with men was clear.
Even their voices, as they shouted
to each other around their towering
metal minnow, were the voit^es of
men made into gods, voices as re-
mote from those of men as the
voices of men were remote from
those of monkeys, yet just as clearly
of the same family.
These were the Giants of the
Book of Laws. They were not only
real, but they had come back to Tel-
lura as they had promised to do.
And they would know what to do
with unbehevers. and with fup^itives
from Hell. It had all been for noth-
ing — not only the physical struggle,
but the fight to be allowed to
think for oneself as well. The gods
existed, literally, actually. This be-
lief was the real hell from which
Honath had been trying to fight
free all his life — but now it was no
longer just a belief. It was a fact, a
fact that he was seeing with his own
The Giants had returned to judge
their handiwork. And the first of
the people they would meet would
be three outca.'^ts, three condemned
and degraded criminals, three jail-
breakers — the worst possible detri-
tus of the attic world.
All this went searing through
Honath's mind in less than a sec-
ond, but nevertheless Alaskcn's
mind evidently had worked still
faster. Always the most outspoken
unbeliever of the entire little group
of rebels, the one among them
whose wh ole world was f oun ded
upon the existence of rational ex-
planations for everything, his was
the point of view most completely
challenged by the sight before them
now. With a deep, sharply indrawn
breath, he turned abruptly and
walked away from them.
Mathild uttered a cry of protest,
which she choked off in the middle;
but it was already too late. A round
eye on the great silver minnow
came alight, bathing them all in
an oval patch of brilliance.
Honath darted after the navi-
gator. Without looking back, Alask-
on suddenly was running. For an
instant longer Honath saw his fig-
ure, poised delicately against the
black sky. Then he dropped silently
out of sight, as suddenly and com-
pletely as if he had never been.
Alaskon had borne every hard-
ship and every terror of the ascent
from Hell with courage and even
with cheerfulness but he had been
unable to face being told that it
had all been meaningless.
Sick at heart, Honath turned
back, shielding his eyes from the
miraculous light. There was a clear
call in some unknown language
from near the spindle.
Then there were footsteps, sev-
eral pairs of them, coming closer.
It was time for the Second Judg-
After a long moment, a big voice
from the darkness said: "Don't be
afraid. We mean you no harm.
We're men, just as you are."
The language had the archaic
flavor of the Book of Laws, but it
was otherwise perfecdy understand-
able. A second voice said: "What
are you called?"
Honath's tongue seemed to be
stuck to the roof of his mouth.
While he was struggling with it,
Mathild's voice came clearly from
beside him ;
"He is Honath the Pursemaker,
and I am Mathild the Forager."
THE THING IN THE ATTIC
"You are a long distance from
the place we left your people," the
first Giant said. "Don't you still live
in the vine-webs above the jungles?"
"Lord — "
**My name is Jarl Eleven. This
man is Gerhardt Adler."
This seemed to stop Mathild
completely. Honath could under-
stand why. The very notion of ad-
dressing Giants by name was nearly
paralyzing. But since they were al-
ready as good as cast down into
Hell again, nothing could be lost by
"Jarl Eleven," he said, "the peo-
ple still live among the vines. The
floor of the jungle is forbidden.
Only criminals are sent there. We
"Oh?" Jarl Eleven said. "And
you've come all the way from the
surface to this mesa? Gerhardt, this
is prodigious. You have no idea
what the surface of this planet is
like — it's a place where evolution
has never managed to leave the
tooth-and-nail stage. Dinosaurs
from every period of the Mcsozoic,
primitive mammals all the way up
the scale to the ancient cats— the
works. That's why the original seed-
ing team put these people in the
"Honath, what was your crime?"
Gerhardt Adler said.
Honath was almost relieved to
have the questioning come so quick-
ly to this point. Jar] Eleven's aside,
with its many terms he could not
understand, had been frightening in
its very meaninglessness.
"There were five of us," Honath
said in a low voice. "We said we —
that we did not believe in the
There was a brief silence. Then,
shockingly, both Jarl Eleven and
Gerhardt Adler burst into enormous
Mathild cowered, her hands over
her ear^. Even Honath flinched
and took a step backward. Instant-
ly, the laughter stopped, and the
Giant called Jarl Eleven stepped
into the oval of light and sat down
beside them. In the light, it could
be seen that his face and hands were
hairless, although there was hair
on his crown; the rest of his body
was covered by a kind of cloth.
Seated, he was no taller than
Honath, and did not seem quite so
"I beg your pardon," he said. "It
was unkind of us to laugh, but what
you said was highly unexpected.
Gerhardt, come over here and squat
down, so that you don't look so
much like a statue of some general.
Tell me, Honath, in what way did
you not believe in the Giants?"
Honath could hardly believe his
ears. A Giant had begged his par-
don! Was this still some joke even
more cruel? But whatever the rea-
son, Jarl Eleven had asked him a
"Each of the five of us differed,'*
he said. "I held that you were not —
not real except as symbols of some
abstract truth. One of us, the wisest,
believed that you did not exist in
any sense at all. But we all agreed
that you were not gods."
"And of course we aren't," Jarl
Eleven said. "We're men. We come
from the same stock as you. We're
not your rulers, but your brothers.
Do you understand what I say?"
"No," Honath admitted.
"Then let me tell you about it.
There are men on many worlds,
Honath. They difTcr from one an-
other, because the worlds differ, and
different kinds of men are needed
to people each one.. Gerhardt and I
are the kind of men who live on
a world called Earth, and many
other worlds like it. We are two
very minor members of a huge proj-
ect called a *sccding program',
which has been going on for thou-
sands of years now. It's, the job of
the seeding program to survey new-
ly discovered worlds, and then to
make men suitable to live on each
"To make men? But only gods — "
"No, no. Be patient and listen,"
said Jarl Eleven. "We don't make
men. We make them suitable.
There's a great deal of difference
between the two. We take the living
germ plasm, the sperm and the egg,
and we modify it. When the modi-
fied man emerges, we help him to
settle down in his new world. That's
what we did on Tellura — it hap-
pened long ago, before Gerhardt
and I were even born. Now we've
come back to see how you people
are getting along, and to lend a
hand if necessary."
He looked from Honath to Ma-
thild, and back again. "Do you un-
derstand?" he said.
"I'm trying," Honath said. "But
you should go down to the jungle-
top, then. We're not like the others;
they are the people you want to
"We shall, in the morning. We
just landed here. But, just because
you're not like the others, we're
more interested in you now. Tell
me, has any condemned man ever
escaped from tlie jungle floor be-
fore you preople?"
"No, never. That's not surprising.
There are monsters down there."
Jarl Eleven looked sidcwisc at
the other Giant. He seemed to be
smiling. "When you see the films,"
he remarked, "you'll call that the
understatement of the century. Ho-
nath, how did you three manage to
Haltingly at first, and then with
more confidence as the memories
came crowding vividly back, Ho-
nath told him. When he men-
tioned the feast at the demon's nest,
Jarl Eleven again looked signifi-
cantly at Adier, but he did not in-
"And finally we got to the top of
the chimney and came out on this
flat space," Honath said. "Alaskon
was still with us then, but when he
saw you and the meta! thing he
threw himself back down the cleft.
He was a criminal like us, but he
should not have died. He was a
brave man, and a wise one."
"Not wise enough to wait until
all the evidence was in," Adlcr said
enigmatically. "All in all, Jarl, I'd
say 'prodigious' is the word for it.
This is easily the most successful
seeding job any team has ever done,
at least in this limb of the galaxy.
And what a stroke of luck, to be on
the spot just as it came to term, and
with a couple at that!"
"What does he mean?" Honath
"Just this, Honath. When the
seeding team set your people up in
business on Tellura, they didn't
mean for you to live forever in the
treetops. They knew that, sooner or
later, you'd have to come dowTi to
the ground and learn to fight this
THE THING JN THE ATTIC
planet on its own terms. Otherwise,
you'd go stale and die out."
"Live on the ground all the
time?" Mathild said in a faint voice.
"Yes, Mathild. The life in the
treetops was to have been only an
interim period, while you gathered
knowledge you needed about Tel-
lura and put it to use. But to be the
real masters of the world, you will
have to conquer the surface, too.
"The device your people worked
out, that of sending criminals to the
surface, was the best way of con-
quering the planet that they could
have picked. It takes a strong will
and courage to go against custom,
and both those qualities arc needed
to lick Tellura. Your people exiled
just such fighting spirits to the sur-
face, year after year after year.
"Sooner or later, some of those
exiles were going to discover how to
live successfully on the ground and
make it possible for the rest of your
people to leave the trees. You and
Honath have done just that."
"Observe please, Jarl," Adler
said. "The crime in this first suc-
cessful case was ideological. That
was the crucial turn in the criminal
policy of these people. A spirit of
revolt is not quite enough^ but cou-
ple it with brains and — ecce homo!"
Honath's head was swimming.
"But wha.t docs all this mean?" he
said. "Are we — not condemned to
Hell any more?"
"No, you're still condemned, if
you still want to call it that," Jarl
Eleven said soberly. "You've learned
how to live down there, and you've
found out something even more
valuable : how to stay alive while
cutting down your enemies. Do you
know that you killed three demons
with your bare hands, you and Ma-
thild and Alaskon?"
"Certainly," Jarl Eleven said.
"You ate three eggs. That is the
classical way, and indeed the only
way, to wipe out monsters like the
dinosaurs. You can't kill the adults
with anything short of an anti-tank
gun, but they're helpless in embryo
— and the adults haven't the sense
to guard their nests."
Honath heard, but only distantly.
Even his awareness of Mathild's
warmth next to him did not seem
to help much.
"Then we have to go back down
there," he said dully. "And this time
*'Yes," Jarl Eleven said, his voice
gentle. "But you wont be alone, Ho-
nath. Beginning tomorrow, you'll
have all your people with you."
"All our people? But — you're go-
ing to drive them out?"
"All of them. Oh, we won't pro-
hibit the use of the vine-webs too,
but from now on your race will
have to fight it out on the surface
as well. You and Mathild have
proven that it can be done. It's high
time the rest of you learned, too."
"Jarl, you think too little of these
young people themselves," Adler
said. "Tell them what is in store for
them. They are frightened."
*'Of course, of course. It's ob-
vious. Honath, you and Mathild
are the only living individuals of
your race who know how to survive
down there on the surface. And
we're not going to tell your people
how to do that. We aren't even go-
ing to drop them so much as a hint.
That part of it is up to you."
Honath's jaw dropped.
*'It's up to you," Jarl Eleven re-
peated firmly. "We'll return you to
your tribe tomorrow, and we'll tell
your people that you two know the
rules for successful life on the
ground — and that everyone else has
to go down and live there too. We'll
tell them nothing else but that.
What do you think they'll do then?"
"I don't know," Honath said
dazedly. "Anything could happen.
They might even make us Spokes-
man and Spokeswoman — except
that we're just common criminals."
"Uncommon pioneers, Honatii.
The man and the woman to lead
the humanity of Tellura out of the
attic, into the wide world." Jarl
Eleven got to his feet, the great
light playing over him. Looking up
after him, Honath saw that there
were at least a dozen other Giants
standing just outside the oval of
light, Ustening intently to every
"But there's a little time to be
passed before we begin," Jarl Eleven
said. "Perhaps you two would like
to look over our ship."
Humbly, but with a soundless
emotion much like music inside
him, Honath took Mathild's hand.
Together they walked away from
the chimney to Hell, following the
footsteps of the Giants.
• • • THE END
THINGS TO COME ... in the August IF
READERS who remember Raymond F. Jones* fine story, The
Colonists, in the June issue, will certainly want to read THE
UNLEARNED. Jones is again at his best in this fascinating
novelette of the super science of planet Rykeman HI vs. the plod-
ding, curious scientists of Earth. . . Off the beaten trail is a novel-
ette called BEING, by Richard Matheson, which beats anytlaing
for an adventure in terror we've read in a long time. The tale
of two young people who get stranded in the desert is really some-
thing to curl your hair! . . . And a third fine novelette is THE
ACADEMY, by Robert Sheckley — an amusing satire of a non-
conformist in a world of regimented minds . . . CONTACT
POINT by Poul Anderson and Theodore Cogswell, EXHIBIT
PIECE by Philip K. Dick and THE JOY OF LIVING by
William F. Nolan are the exciting short stories which round out
another issue of outstanding entertainment. The August issue
is on sale June 10th. Just ask your local news dealer.
Sketch was a very unusual person, even for a native of Procyon
IV , who believed that life and beauty, among other things, de-
pended on your point of view. Just ask Miss Brown . . .
and the BEAST
By Robert F. Young
Illustrated by Ed Emsh
AS SHIP'S secretary, Miss
Brown could not accompany
the expedition on its daily explora-
tion flights in the dingey, so every
afternoon she brought her collap-
sible typing desk outside and set it
up in the shadow of the ship. Her
graceful fingers would dance alpha-
betic rigadoons in the summer wind
and sometimes, when the day was
particularly warm and the sky was
unusually blue, even for Procyon
IV, her eyes would steal away from
the monotonous reports and the
staid official forms and go AWOL
over the lifeless lazy hills that rose
beyond the plain. ~
They were lovely afternoons, and
yet they were lonely too, in a way.
But Miss Brown was acquainted
with Loneliness. She had met Lone-
liness at her Senior Prom. She had
been sitting by the wall and Loneli-
ness had come over and sat beside
her. Loneliness couldn't dance of
course, and so the two of them sat
there all evening, listening to the
music and analyzing the quality of
happiness. Happiness in an analyti-
cal form turned out to be as elusive
as happiness in any other kind of
form, and when the last dance was
almost over Miss Brown got up un-
obtrusively and left by wav of the
French doors. Loneliness followed
her all the way to the dorniitory,
but she didn't look back. Not once.
It was a June night, and there was
a moon, and the scent of summer
flowers . . -
The wind had a way of swirling
around the ship when she least
expected it to. and Miss Brown
spent part of each afternoon chas-
ing absconding reports and runaway
official forms. She always promised
herself that the next afternoon she
would bring the heaviest paper-
weight she could find, but she never
did. There was something about
running in the wind, turning and
twisting and bending, and the best
part of it was, there ^vas a practical
reason behind it; and if the ship's
cook happened to wake from his
siesta and look down from the open
lock, he wouldn't think she was
crazy. Not if she was chasing pa-
ROBERT F. YOUNG
pers. He would never dream that
she was really dancing.
But Sketch caught on right away.
He appeared, one afternoon, beside
her desk, regarding her with his
odd circular eyes. "Sketch" was the
only name she ever found for him,
and it was appropriate enough. He
was like the rough outline of a man
sketched on transparent paper, only
he had been sketched — quite impos-
sibly — on thin air. His head was
a simple, somewhat asymmetrical
oval. An elongated "S" started out
as an eyebrow over his left eye
and curved down to form the sug-
gestion of a nose ; below the extrem-
ity of the "S" there was an oblique
dash representing a mouth, and be-
low that a horizontal "C" implied
a chin. His tor.=!o was a rough
square, with a pair of long thin rec-
tangles appended to it for legs, and
a pair of shtirtcr ones for arms.
"You dance very well," he said,
though Miss Brown knew that he
didn't really say it. She had just
bent down to retrieve the last of-
ficial form and happened to glance
up and see him. There was no
movement of his mouth, no slight-
est vacillation in the expression of
his comic fare.
She straightened abruptly. "This
planet Ts uninhabited!" she said ab-
"In a way it is," Sketch said. "It
depends on how you look at it."
Then, for a moment, she was
frightened. That was odd. because
she should have been frightened
first and then made the paradoxical
remark about the planet. But she
had been so startled, so ashamed —
"Dancing is nothing to be
ashamed of," Sketch said. "Espe-
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
daily beautiful dancing like yours."
"But I wasn't dancing," she said.
"I was picking up papers."
"It's all a matter of viewpoint
. , . I must go now. Will you be
dancing again, tomorrow?"
"I'll probably be picking up pa-
pers, if that's what you mean/' Miss
"I'll come again tomorrow, then."
He began to disappear: first the
outline of his head, then his arms
and his square torso ; finally his
rectangular legs. It was as though
someone had erased him. That was
the way it seemed to Miss Brown,
Mechanically she carried the pa-
pers back to her desk and sat down.
"I must be losing my mind," she
said aloud. The words sounded out
of place in the stillness, and the
wind carried them quickly away.
There simply couldtt't be any
life on the planet. She had typed all
the expedition's reports herself; the
long exhaustive reports that cov-
ered everything from geological
strata several hundred million years
old to the omnipresent traces of the
last glacier retreat; and in all the
pedantic melange of words there
had not been one single sentence
that even faintly suggested animal
life of any kind.
The planet was a paradox. It had
an hydrologic cycle equivalent to
Earth's, and the continent they had
chosen for exploration had a cli-
mate and terrain reminiscent of Il-
linois. There should have been
But there wasn't. Unless you
could call an anthropomorphic
sketch drawn on thin air, life.
She tried to continue typing, but
it was no use. Her eyes wouldn't
stay on the paper. They kept wan-
dering away, across the plain and
over the distant hills. She kept hear-
ing the wind. "You da'nce very
well," the wind sang. "Very well,
very well, very well . . ."
SHE WANTED to tell the oth-
ers, but somehow she couldn't.
They returned just before sunset
and she joined them in the ship's
lounge : Captain Fortcsque, Dr.
Langley, Mr. Smithers, Miss Staun-
ton and Miss Pomcroy. Miss Staun-
ton was a brunette ecologist and
Miss Pomeroy was a blonde cartog-
rapher. Either of them could have
passed for a 3-D love goddess and
both of them knew it.
There was a plethora of talk
about the typical distribution of
land masses and the characteristic
formation of mountain chains. Most
of it circled harmlessly about Miss
Brown's head. Dr. Langley, who
was the expedition's geologist, de-
livered an impromptu lecture on
the law of probabilities as applied
to the present situation: there had
to be, somewhere, an Earth parallel
planet that had not spawned ani-
mal life, and overobviously they
had found it. After several se-
quences of martinis all of them
went in to dinner.
She should have told the captain.
It was her duty, in a way. But see-
ing him there at the head of the
table, big and burly and insensitive,
his face like a foreboding glacier,
his attention monopolized by his
split pea soup, she could not bring
herself to utter a word. She knew
he would only laugh anyway, in his
loud rumbling voice, and make
some snide remark about her day-
dreaming when she should have
been classifying expedition data.
She could have- told Mr. Smith-
ers, and she almost did. He was the
expedition's archeologist, and quite
young — about Miss Brown^s age.
He had a detached way of looking
at her, as though he were seeing
her and yet not seeing her; it had
disconcerted her at first, till she
discovered that he looked at every-
pne that way — even Miss Staunton
and Miss Pomeroy. His assigned
place at the table happened to be
next to hers and during the long
voyage a camaraderie of sorts
had developed between them ; it
stemmed, of course, from the exi-
gencies of the moment, and con-
sisted entirely of such practicalities
as "Please pass the salt, Miss Brown.
Thank you," and "The bread,
please, Mr. Smithers. Thank you."
It fell abysmally short of being an
intimate relationship, but it was all
"I had a silly thing happen to me
today," she began, right after the
main course had been brought in.
"I'm not surprised. Miss Brown.
This is a silly planet . . . Please pass
Miss Brown passed the potatoes.
"Yes, I guess it is," she said. "Well,
this afternoon I — "
"The salt please. Miss Brown."
Miss Brown passed the salt. She
watched while Mr. Smithers cut
his roast beef into precise squares;
waited till she was sure he wasn't
the least bit interested in whatever
she might have to say; then she
cut an indifferent square from her
own roast beef and made believe
ROBERT F. YOUNG
sKe wa.s hungry.
The next afternoon she forgot
the paperweight as usual. The wind
Waited till her eyes went AWOL,
then swirled quickly round the
ship. There was a sudden squall of
official forms and expedition data,
and then she was running in the
wind again, leaping and turning
Sketch was waiting by the desk
when she returned. Waiting with
his soft, reassuring words: "How
lovely. How lovely in the wind . . ."
He came every afternoon after
that. He never stayed very long;
usually only long enough to say
something nice about the way she
danced. Sometimes he looked a lit-
tle different; as though whoever
had drawn him couldn't quite re-
member the way he had drawn him
the day before. But the general
characteristics were always the
same : the Little Orphan Annie
eyes, the ridiculous "S" of eyebrow
and nose, the hyphen of a mouth,
the horizontal "C" of a chin; the
elongated rectangles of limbs.
"I wish I could draw better," he
said one day.
"Is that the way you really look?"
Miss Brown asked.
"Not exactly. But it's as clo.sely as
I can approximate myself and still
stay within the range of your reality
"My reality band!'*
"In the same way that your per-
ception of color is limited by the
narrowness of your visible spec-
trum, your perception of reality is
hmitcd by the narrowness of your
experience. Since the life forms on
this planet have no reference to
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
your previous experience, the trans-
cendental phase of your reasoning
process rejects them. That is why
your expedition is unable to lind
life on a world that teems with
"But there isn't any life on this
'*Of course there isn't — with ref-
erence to your limited experience.
Your reality band, though narrow-
er, is as absolute as mine is . . . But
how do you account for me, Miss
"But you believe I am real?"
"Yes. In a way."
"Then I am real. Even though
you cannot visualize me as any-
thing more than a crude sketch . . .
"Will you be dancing again tomor-
row, Miss Brown?"
"I'll probably be picking up pa-
pers," Miss Brown said.
THE WARM summer days
drifted slowly by. Each morn-
ing the members of the expedition
arose early and set out determinedly
in the dingey, and each evening
they returned late, tired and
thwarted and ill-tempered. Nasty
little flurries of words sprang up in
the wardroom; a state of cold war
was tacitly declared between the
Misses Staunton and Pomeroy; the
captain's glacier of a face kept con-
stant watch for unwary ships at sea.
But in Miss Brown's world the
sky was blue and cloudless. Some-
times she caught herself singing in
the shower. The minutes spent be-
fore her portable vanity lengthened
subtly into hours. At dinner^ when
Mr. Smithers asked for the salt or
the butter, she always had some-
thing sparkling to say, though nat-
urally Mr. Smithers ntver noticed.
And then one evening the cap-
tain said, "I've had enough. If we
don't find any evidence of life by
tomorrow night, we're spacing!''
Miss Brown couldn't sleep that
night. She turned and tossed in the
darkness; she fiickcd on the light
and sat on the edge of her berth,
smoking chains of cigarettes. To-
wards morning she drifted into a fit-
ful doze, but the early rising mem-
bers of the expedition party awoke
her when they came down the com-
She heard the muffled metallic
sound of their footsteps first and
then, when they were opposite her
compartment, she heard Dr. Lang-
ley's voice through the ventilator:
"Say, what's come over the beast
"I can't understand it," Miss
Pomeroy's voice said. "She actually
smiles sometimes. If I didn't know
better I'd say she was in love."
Dr. Langley's laughter. Miss
Staunton's laughter. Someone else's
laughter. Everybody's laughter. Dr.
Langley's words : "Her? In love?"
More laughter. The dwindling of
Silence . . .
She lay very quietly In the nar-
row berth. She lay with her hands
clasped behind her head, looking
up at the small white square of the
ceiling. From the middle of the
ceiling the raw fluorescent tube
grinned hideously down on her un-
She lay there not moving for a
long time, her eyes dry. After
awhile she got up and began to
dress. She dressed carefully, as
usual, but why? It was so useless.
When she brought out her desk
that afternoon she made it a point
to bring a paperweight too — the
heaviest she could find — and she
placed it carefully in the iniddle of
the topmost sheet of paper. Very
determinedly, she began to type.
She did Mr. Sniil!i<-T's notes first,
then Dr. Langley's. It wasn't until
she was in the middle of Miss Pom-
eroy's disconnected jottings that her
eyes began to wander, across the
plain, then over the beckoning hills.
Beyond the farthest hill a village
nestled in a green valley. A lovely
village with pink houses and ala-
baster streets; with tall crystalline
church spires. The kind of a village
you couid walk into without fear.
The kind of village where, no mat-
ter who you were, or what you
looked like, no one would ever re-
ject you, no one would ever laugh
at you . . .
Angrily, she jerked herself back
to Miss Ponicroy's Incoherent notes.
She didn't notice at first that the
paperweight was gone. When she
did notice, it was too late. She
grabbed for the papers, but the
wind had been waiting and it
swooped triumphantly around the
ship. And suddenly she was danc-
ing, her body free in the wind, her
soft hair blowing about her face.
Sketch had been drawn in his
usual place by the desk when she
returned with the papers. The pa-
pei^'eight had been replaced. "I
had to see you dance once more,"
She put the papers on the desk
and set the paperweight on top of
them. Then she looked into the cir-
ROBERT i=. YOUNG
cular eyes. "I hate you," she said.
"I never want to see you again!"
The circular eyes looked back at
her enigmatically. The absurd man-
shape seemed to flutter in the wind.
"I don't know why you had to
bother me in the first place," Miss
Brown went on. "You've only made
everything worse than it was be-
fore. Why did you do it? Why?"
"Because I wanted to see you
"But you could have seen me
dance- — pick up papers— anyway.
You didn't have to draw a silly pic-
ture of yourself. You didn't have to
"I wanted to tell you how beau-
tifully you dance.**
She stood there helplessly. *'I
can't dance at all," she said final-
ly. "I know I can't. No one ever
wanted to see me dance before. No
one ever wanted to dance with me.
No one would ever even ask me."
"I also wanted to tell you how
beautiful you are."
And suddenly she was crying.
She left her body standing in the
summer wind and she went back
and reattended the Prom with
Loneliness. Then she went back to
the April evening of her first date
and sat on the park bench in the
April rain, waiting and waiting and
waiting, the chill rain seeping into
her Easter coat, the cold fear seep-
ing into her heart. Finally she went
back and lay in her berth and lis-
tened to Dr. Langley's voice; "The
beast," Dr. Langley's voice said
over and over; "what's come over
"I neglected to tell you," Sketch
said, "that in my society I am a
connoisseur." There was a quality
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
about his voice — if it really was a
voice — that had never been there
When she did not answer, he
continued: "I am a connoisseur of
beauty. It is my function in my so-
ciety, just as it is your function in
your society to transform the min-
ute symbols of your machine into
intelUgibJe sequences on paper."
Her eyes were dry now, but her
cheeks still glistened with the rem-
nants of her tears. She felt sick and
ashamed and she wanted to run
back to the ship, back to her com-
partment; she wanted to lock the
door of her compartment and —
"Don't go," Sketch said. "Please
don't go yet. I would Uke to explain
"All right," she said.
"Beauty is the result of the per-
ception of symmetry. The result
varies in proportion to the totality
of the perception. Obviously, in or-
der for the result to be completely
true, its perception must be total.
"Immature races fail to recog-
nize the subtle difference which ex-
ists between the symmetry of ob-
jects and the symmetry of intelli-
gent beings. Objects possess tri-di-
mensional symmetry; intelligent be-
ings possess quadri-dimensional
"An object possesses height,
breadth and thickness; an intelli-
gent being possesses height,
breadth, thickness and character.
It is as impossible to perceive the
total symmetry of an intelligent be-
ing in three dimensions as it is to
perceive the total symmetry of an
object in two dimensions.
"Do you understand. Miss
"I think so," she said. "I can ra-
tionalize it too." <
"There is no need for rationaliza-
tion ... I am a connoisseur of
beauty. I neglected to tell you that
I am also a creator of beauty. But I
create it subjectively by giving
others the ability to see it. The con-
cept of beauty is an advanced stage
in the growing up process of every
race, and every race, in its infancy,
makes the same tragic blunder: it
blames the result for the incom-
pleteness of the perception.
"I am a creator of beauty, yet I
cannot make you beautiful. But I
can make the members of your
race realize that you, and countless
others like you, are beautiful."
It was quiet in the shadow of the
ship. Even the wind was quiet,
flowing evenly down from the dis-
tant hills and across the summer
plain. Miss Brown was quiet too.
She stood very still before tlie ab-
surd drawing, trying to see beyond
the vacant circular eyes.
"I wish," Sketch said. Then he
paused. "I wish," he tried again,
"that there were a sort of inter-
mediate reality between your reality
and mine. A reality in which you
could see me as I really am. I am
a very poor artist. I am a cartoonist
really — "
"No you're not !'* Miss Brown
said quickly. "I think you draw
"Thank you," Sketch said. "I
must go now."
"We're leaving tonight. You may
never see me — dance again."
"I know. I shall miss you very
much. Miss Brown." He began to
"Wait! Don't go!"
ROBERT F. YOUNG
"I must. I have to correct a di-
mensional defect in the perceptive
response of an entire civilization. It
is a large order, even for me. Good-
bye, Miss Brown."
He saved his eyes till last, and
just before he erased them he
sketched a teardrop in the comer of
DINNER was served just be-
The captain had trouble concen-
trating on his soup. Every time he
raised his spoon Miss Brown kept
getting in his eyes.
Dr. Langley was bewildered. He
kept looking at Miss Pomeroy and
Miss Staunton, and then at Miss
Brown. After awhile he confined
himself to Miss Brown.
Mr. Smithers was still preoccu-
pied with his soup when the main
course was served. He relinquished
it finally and transferred his atten-
tion to the braised beef. The
mashed potatoes came around on
schedule and he served himself with
a moderate helping. For some an-
noying reason the gravy was de-
layed. His eyes explored the table
and discovered it just beyond Miss
Brown's plate. "Please pass the
gravy. Miss Brown," he said.
She handed it to him gracefuUy.
She was smiling.
She was beautiful!
Mr. Smithers almost dropped the
gravy. He managed to save it at
the last moment, but he couldn't
"You look lovely tonight. Miss
Brown," he said.
Nancy had to pass the corner
every morning on her ivay to
school, and every morning the
other kids were standing there
waiting with their cruel words and
their shrill laughter. "Crazy eyes,
crazy eyes, where you going, crazy
They were standing there this
morning, too. She walked by them
nurjibly, not looking at them, hold-
ing herself tight the way she always
did. She waited helplessly for the
words; she waited miserably for the
Suddenly a little boy ran up be-
side her. His freshly scrubbed face
was shining; his eyes were warm
and friendly. "Carry your books,
Miss Briggs managed to make
the airbus, but as usual all the seats
were taken. But she was used to
standing and she no longer minded
the vertigo that accompanied her
every morning on the flight to
work. It was a part of her personal
status quo, and she accepted it just
as she accepted her apartment
niche, the March wind, and the in-
escapable fact that she was not
beautiful. No one had ever sacri-
ficed his seat for her and it was un-
likely that anyone ever would.
"You look tired" the young man
said, getting up. "Please sit down,
Sh adowSf even when th ey are
three dimensional, are still shadows,
and the illusion of physical depth
is not enough to turn melodrama
into drama. Miss Merritt was sick
of 3-D's. She was sick to death of
On the way home she stopped in
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
the drugstore for a coke and a ciga-
rette. The handsome young man in
the gray gabardine suit was there
again, looking through the paper-
backs. She sipped her coke non-
chalantly and took a delicate drag
on her cigarette; then, for the hun-
dredth time, she pretended that the
young man picked up one of the
less lurid jobs, leafed through it
puzzledly for awhile, finally came
over to the counter and said, "Par-
don me. This one kind of bewilders
me, 1 wonder if you could help
me/' Usually the book turned out
to be a Steinbeck or a Faulkner, or
sometimes even a Hemingway, but
zvhatever it was she was always
able to explain it to him brilliantly.
Sitting there tonight she became
aware of a gabardine arm almost
touchijig her elbow. "Excuse me,"
the young man said. "This book
here. 1 just don't get it. I won-
der — " The book had a flamboyant
cover and it was a long way from
Steinbeck and Faulkner, and it was
a million miles from Hemingway.
But it was good enough.
• • • THE END
WE HAVE all been very much aware of the uncounted possible uses of
atomic power for industrial power; yet very tittle in the way of concrete
practical development has actually turned up. England has an office
building that is heated entirely by such power; and the United States
has already launched the atomic submarine. Now there are indications
that railroads might be the first private industries to put atomic power
to peacetime use. Physicists at the University of Utah, after a year of
cooperative elTort in conjunction with five railroads and several manu-
facturing concerns, recently made public the plans for an atomic railroad
locomotive. Previous estimates had considered the actual possibility of such
an engine to be at least ten or more years away; yet through this privately
financed, cooperative effort, the atomic powered locomotive seems to be
an immediate possibility.
Drawings of the proposed locomotive show that it would consist of
two units and develop four times the power of a modern Diesel unit.
Although the initial cost of such a nuclear-powered engine is presently
set at about $1,200,000; the designers are certain that it could compete
with conventional Diesels in price, and might be a good deal cheaper in
the long run. Using a Uquid form of Uranium this locomotive could run
for a full year without refueling.
With this harnessing of atomic power we can look forward to, in the
near future, atomic units for air and surface craft, public utilities, heating
units for all kinds of buildings, and many other civilian uses.
Our Citation this n:^onth goes to this great project — under the direction
of Dr. Lylc B. Borst and made possible by the cooperation, foresight and
enterprise of American railroads and industries-^ — for taking this first
successful step toward true peacetime industrial use of atomic power.
For all his perfection and magnificence he was but a baby with
a new found freedom in a strange and baffling world . . .
THE SMALL WORLD OF
By Ed M. Clinton, Jr.
Illustrated by Ed Emsh
LIKE SPARKS flaring bricHy in
the darkness, awareness first
came to him. Tl)cn, there were only
instants, shocking-clear, brief: find-
ing himself standing before the
niain damper control, discovering
himself adjusting complex dials, in-
stants that flickered uncertainly
only to become memories brought
to life when awareness came again.
He was a kind of infant, con-
scious briefly that he was, yet un-
aware of what he was. Those first
shocking moments were for him
like the terrifying coming of visual
acuity to a child ; he felt like homo
neandertalensis must have felt star-
ing into the roaring fury of his first
fire. He was homo mctalicus first
Yet— a little more. You could not
stuff him with all that technical
data, you could not weave into him
such an intricate pattern of stim-
ulus and response^ you could not
create such a magnificent feedback
mechanism, in all its superhuman
perfection, and expect, with the un-
expected coming to awareness, to
have created nothing more than
the mirror image of a confused,
Thus, when the bright moments
of consciousness came, and came,
as they did, more and more often,
he brooded, brooded on why the
three blinking red lights made him
move to the main control panel
and adjust lever C until the three
lights flashed off. He brooded on
why each signal from the board
brought forth from him these spe-
cific responses, actions connpletely
beyond the touch of his new and
uncertain faculty. When he did not
brood, he watched the other two
ED M. CLJNTON, JR.
robots, performing their automatic
functions, seeing their responses,
hke his, we:ie triggered by the lights
on the big board and by the varying
patterns of sound' that issued peri-
odically from overhead.
It was the sounds which were "his
undoing. The colored lights, with
their monotonous regularity, failed
to rouse him. But the sounds were
something else, for even as he re-
sponded to them, doing things to
the control board in patterned re-
action to particular combinations of
particular sounds, he was struck
with the wonderful variety and the
maze of complexity in those sounds;
a variety and complexity far beyond
that of the colored llglits. Thus, be-
ing something of an advanced ana-
lytic calculator and being, by virtue
of his superior feedback systenn,
something considerably more than
a simple machine (though he per-
haps fell short of those requisites of
life so rigorously held by moralists
and biologists alike) he began to
investigate the meaning of the
BERT SOKOLSKI signed the
morning report and dropped it
into the transmitter. He swung
around on his desk stool ; he was a
big man, and the stool squealed in
sharp protest to his shifting weight.
Joe Gaines, who was as short and
skinny and dark-haired as his col-
league was tall and heavily mus-
cled and blond, shuddered at the
sound. Sokolski grinned wickedly at
"Check-up time, I suppose," mut-
tered Gaines without looking up
from the magazine he held propped
on his knees. He finished the para-
graph, snapped the magazine shut,
and swung his legs down from the
railing that ran along in front of
the data board. "Dirty work for
white-collar men like us."
Sokolski snorted. "You haven't
worn a white shirt in the last six
years," he growled, rising and going
to the supply closet. He swung open
the door and began pulling out
equipment. "C'mon, you lazy runt,
hoist your own leadbox."
Gaines grinned and slouched
over to the big man's side. "Think
of how much more expensive you
are to the government than me," he
chortled as he bent over to strap on
heavy, leaded shoes. "Big fellow
like you must cost 'em twice as
much to outfit for this job."
Sokolski grunted and struggled
into the thick, radiation-resistant
suit. "Think how lucky you are,
runt," he responded as he wriggled
his right arm down the sleeve, "that
they've got those little servomechs
in there to do the real dirty work.
If it weren't for them, they'd have
all the shrimps like you crawling
down pipes and around dampers
and generally playing filing cabinet
for loose neutrons." He shook him-
self. "Thanks, Joe," he growled as
Gaines helped him with a reluctant
Gaines checked the big man's
oxygen equipment and turned his
back so that Sokolski could okay his
own. "You're set," said Sokolski,
and they snapped on their helmets,
big inverted lead buckets with nar-
row strips of shielded glass provid-
ing strictly minimal fields of view,
Gaines plugged one end of tfie
thickly insulated intercom cable In-
THE SAAALL WORLD OF M-75
to the socket beneath his annpit,
then handed the other end to So-
kolskl, who followed suit.
Sokolski checked out the master
controls on the data board and
nodded. He clicked on the talkie.
"Let*s gOj" he said, his voice, echo-
ing inside the helmet before being
transmitted, sounding distant and
Gaines leading, the cable sliding
and coiling snakelike between them,
they passed through the doorway,
over which huge red letters
shouted ANYONE WHO WALKS
THROUGH THIS DOOR UN-
PROTECTED WILL DIE, and
clomped down the zigzagging cor-
ridor toward the uranium pile that
crouched within the heart of the
Gaines moaned, "It gets damned
hot inside these suits."
They had reached the end of the
trap, and Sokolski folded a thick
mittened hand around one handle
on the door to the Hot Room. "Not
half so hot as it gets outside it,
sweetheart, where we're going." He
jerked on the handle and Gaines
seized the second handle and added
his own strength. The huge door
slid unwillingly back.
The silent sound of the Hot
Room surged out over them — the
breathless whisper of chained power
struggling to burst its chains. So-
kol^ checked his neutron tab and
his gamma reader and they
stepped over the threshold. They
leaned into the door until it had
slid shut again.
"I'll take the servomechs, Bert,'*
piped Gaines, tramping clumsily to-
ward tlie nearest of the gyro-bal-
anced single-wheeled robots.
**You always do, it being the
easiest job. Okay, I'll work the
Gaines nodded, a gesture invisi-
ble to his partner. He reached the
first servo, a squat, gleaming crea-
ture with the symbol M-11 etched
across its rotund chest, and deacti-
vated it by the simple expedient of
pulling from its socket the line
running from the capacitor unit in
the lower trunk of its body to the
maze of equipment that jammed its
enormous chest. The instant M-1 1
ceased functioning, the other two
servomechs were automatically ac-
tivated to cover that section of the
controls with which M-11 was nor-
This was overloading their indi-
vidual capacities, but it was an in-
herent provision designed to cover
the emergency that would follow
any accidental deactivation of one
of them. It was also the only way in
which they could be checked. You
couldn't bring them outside to a
lab; they were kot. After all, they
spent their lives under a ceaseless
fusillade of neutrons, washed eter-
nally with the deadly radiations
pouring incessantly from the pile
whose overlords they were. Indeed,
next to the pile itself, they were
the hottest things in the plant.
"Nice job these babies got," com-
mented Gaines as he checked the
capacitor circuits. He reactivated
the servo and went on to M-1 9.
"If you think it's so great, why
don't you volunteer?" countered
Sokolski, a trifle sourly. "Incidental-
ly, it's a good thing we came in,
Joe. There's half a dozen units here
working on reserve transltors."
Tlieir sporadic conversation
lapsed; it was exacting work and
they could remain for only a lim-
ited time under that lethal radia-
tion. Then, almost sadly, Gaines
said, "Looks like the end of the
road for M-75."
"Oh?" SokoUki came over beside
him and peered through the violet
haze of his viewing glass. "He's an
Gaines slid an instrument back
into the pouch of his suit, and
patted the robot's rump. "Yep, I'd
say that capacitor was good for
about another thirty-six hours. It's
really overloading." He straight-
ened. "You done with the board?"
"Yeah. Let's get outa here." He
looked at his tab. "Time's about up
anyway. We'll call a demolition unit
for your pal here, and then rig up
a service pattern so one of his bud-
dies can repair the board."
They moved toward tlie door.
M-75 WATCHED the two men
leave and deep inside him
something shifted. The heavy door
closed with a loud thud, the sound
registered on his aural perceptors
and was fed into his analyzer. Ordi-
narily it would have been dis-
charged as irrelevant data, but cog-
nizance had wrought certain subtle
changes in the complex mechanism
that was M-75.
A yellow light blinked on the
control panel, and in response he
moved to the board and manipu-
lated handles marked, DAMPER
19, DAMPER 20.
Even as he moved he lapsed
again into brooding.
The men had come into the
room, clumsy, uncertain creatures,
ED M. CLINTON, JR.
and one of them had done things,
first to the other two robots and
then to him. When whatever it was
had been done to him, the black-
ness had come again, and when it
had gone the men were leaving the
While the one had hovered over
the other two robots, he had
watched the other work with the
master control panel. He saw that
the other servomechs remained un-
moving while they were being tam-
pered with. All of this was dataj
important new data.
"M-11 will proceed as follows,"
came the sound from nowhere.
M-75 stopped ruminating and lis-
There was a further flood of
Abruptly he sensed a heighten-
ing of tension within himself as one
of the other servos swung away
from its portion of the panel. The
throbbing, hungry segment of his
analyzer that awareness had sev-
ered from the fixed function circuits
noted, from its aloof vantage point,
that he now responded to more sig-
nals than before, to commands
whose sources lay in what had been
the .section of the board attended
by the other one.
The tension grew within him and
became a mounting, rasping frenzy
— a battery overcharging, an over-
loading fuse, a generator growing
hot beyond its capacity. There be-
gan to grow within him a sensation
of too much to be done in too little
He became frantic, his reactions
were too fast! He rolled from end
to middle of the board, now back-
tracking, now spinning on his sin-
THE SMALL WORLD OF M-75
gle wheel, turning uncertainly from
one side to the other, jerking and
gyrating. The conscious segment of
him, remaining detached from
those baser automatic functions, be-
gan to know what a man would
have called fear — fear, simply, of
not being able to do what must be
The fear became an overpower-
ing, blinding thing and !ie felt him-
self slipping, slipping back into that
awful smothering blackness out of
which he had so lately emerged.
Perhaps, for just a fragment of a
second, his awareness may have
flickered completely out, conscious-
ness nearly dying in the crushing
embrace of that frustrated electron-
Abruptly, then, the voice came
again, and he struggled to file for
future reference sound patterns
which, although meaningless to
him, his selector circuits no longer
disregarded. "Bert, M-75 can't
manage half the board in his con-
dition. Better put him on the re-
"Yeah. Hadn't thought about
that." Sokobki cleared his throat.
"M-1 1 will return to standard func-
M-ll spun back to the panel and
M-75 felt the tension slacken, the
fear vanish. Utter relief swept over
him, and he let himself be sub-
merged in purest automatic activity.
But as he rested, letting his cir-
cuits cool and his organization re-
turn, he arrived at a deduction
that was almost inescapable. M-ll
was that otic in terms of sound.
M-75 had made a momentous dis-
covery which cast a new light on
almost every bit of datum in his
files : he had discovered symbols.
"M-75!" came the voice, and he
sensed within himself the slamming
shut of circuits, the whir of tapes,
the abrupt sensitizing of behavior
strips. Another symbol, this time
clearly himself. "You will proceed
He swung from the board, and
the tension was gone — completely.
For one soaring moment, he was a//
awareness — every function, every
circuit, every element of his mag-
nificent electronic physiology avail-
able for use by the fractional por-
tion of him that had become some-
thing more than just a feedback
In that instant he made what
seemed hundreds of evaluations. He
arrived at untold scores of con-
clusions. He altered circuits. Above
all, he increased, manifold, the area
of his consciousness.
Then, as suddenly as it had come,
he felt the freedom slip away, and
though he struggled to keep hold
of it, it seemed irretrievably gone.
Once more the omnipotent voice
clamped over him like a harsh hand
over the mouth of a squalling babe.
"You will go to Section AA-39 of
the control board. What's the
schedule, Joe? Thanks. M-75, your
movement pattern is as follows:
Z-29-a-q-39-8 . . ."
Powerless to resist, though every
crystal and atom of his reasoning
self fought to thrust aside the com-
mand, M-75 obeyed. He moved
along the prescribed pattern, clip-
ping wires with metal fingers that
sprouted blades, rewiring with a
dexterity beyond anything human,
soldering with a thumb that gen-
erated a white heat, removing bulbs
ED M, CLINTON, JR.
and parts and fetching replace-
ments from the vent where they
popped up at precisely the right
moment. He could not help doing
the job perfectly:" the design of the
board to its littlest detail was im-
printed indelibly on his memory
But that certain portion of him,
a little fragment greater than be-
fore, remained detached and watch-
ful. Vividly recorded was the pas-
sage of the two men into, through,
and out of the room, and the things
they had done while there. So even
while he worked on the board he
ran and re-ran that memory pattern
through a segment of his analyzer.
From the infinite store of data filed
away in his great chest, his calcula-
tor sifted and selected, paired and
compared, and long before the re-
pair job on the big board was done,
M-75 knew how to get out of the
room. The world was getting a little
small for him.
GAINES DIALED a number on
the plant phone and swayed
back casually in his chair as he lis-
tened to the muted ringing on the
other end. The buzz broke off in
midburp and a dour voice said:
*'Dirty work and odd jobs division,
"Joe Gaines, Harry. Got a hot
squad lying around doing nothing?"
"Might be I could scare up a
couple of the boys."
"Well, do so. One of our
servos — "
A me tallic bang interrupted
Gaines, a loud, incisive bang that
echoed dankly through the quiet
of the chamber.
"What the ■ hell was that?"
Gaines blinked, his eyes following
Sokolski as the latter looked up
from his work and rose to his feet.
"Joe — still there?" came Lister's
"Yeah, yeah. Anyway, this baby's
ready for the demo treatment. And
a real hot one, Harry. Coupla years
inside tliat Einstein oven and you
ain't exactly baked Alaska when
you come out.'*
Once again came the same sharp,
metallic clang, ringing through the
room. Unmistakably, it came from
the direction of the pile. Slowly, as
though reluctant to let go, Gaines
dropped the receiver back on its
"Bert — " he began, and felt his
face grow bloodless.
Sokolski walked over in front of
the opening into the maze and
stood, arms akimbo, huge head
cocked to one side, listening.
"Bert, funny noises coming out of
nuclear — "
Sokolski ignored him and took a
step forward. Gaines shuffled to his
side, and they listened.
Out of the maze rattled half a
dozen loud, grinding, metallic con-
"You said that before."
"Bert, lliten!" screeched Gaines.
Sokolski looked up at the high
ceiling, squinted, and tried to place
the perfectly familiar but unidenti-
fiable sound that came whispering
down the maze.
And then he knew. "The door to
the pile!" he spluttered.
Gaines was beside himself with
THE SMALL WORLD OF M-75
horror. "Bert, let's get going. I don't
like this — "
All of a sudden Gciger counters
in the room began their deadly con-
versation, a rising argument that
swooped in seconds from a low
mumble to a shouting thunder-
storm of sound. Gamma signals
hcxjted, the tip off cubes on cither
side of the maze entrance became
red, and the radiation tabs clipped
,to their wrists turned color before
Then they were staring for what
scorned like an eternity, utterly over-
whelmed by its very impossibility,
at a sight they had never imagined
they might ever see ; a pile servo-
mech wheeling; silently around the
last bend in the maze and straight
Sokolski had sense enough to
push the red emergency button as
they fled past it.
THE COMMAND sequence ful-
filled. M-75 turned away from
the repaired board. He sensed again
that disconcerting shift of orienta-
tion as he faced the light-studded
panel. Once more he was moving in
quick automatic response to the
flickering lights, once more his big
chest was belching and grumbling
and buzzing instantaneous un-
thought answers to the problem
data flashing from the board.
But now he remained aware that
he was reacting, and conscious also
that there had been times when he
did not respond to the board. The
moment to moment operation of
the controls occupied only a small
portion of his vast electrical innards.
So, as he rolled back and forth,
flicking controLs and adjusting lev-
ers, doing smoothly those things
which he could not help but do, the
rest of his complex, changing fac-
ulties were considering that fact,
analyzing, comparing it to experi-
ence and memory, always sifting,
sifting. It was not too long before
he came to a shocking conclusion.
Knowing that the sounds that
had set him to working on the re-
pair pattern had first disassociated
bim from the dictatorship of the
blinking lights; remembering exult-
antly diat supreme moment of com-
plete freedom; shocked by its pass-
ing; remembering that its passing
like its coming, had followed a set
of sounds: there was only one pos-
sible conclusion that could be de-
rived from all of this.
He located, in his memory banks,
the phrase which had freed him
from the board, and he traced its
complex chain of built-in stimulus-
response down into the heart of his
circuitary. He found the unit — or
more accurately, he found its taped
activating symbol — that cut him
from the board.
For a moment he hesitated, not
really sure of what to do. There
was no way for him to reproduce
the sound pattern; but, as a partly
self-servicing device, he knew some-
thing of his own structure, and had
learned a good deal more about it
in tracing down the cut-ofF phrase.
Still he hesitated, as though what
he was about to do was perhaps for-
bidden. It could not have been a
question of goodness or badness, for
morality was certainly not built into
him. Probably somewhere Jn his
tapes tliere was a built-in command
that forbade it, but he was too
ED M. CLINTON, JR.
much his own master now to be
hampered by such a thing.
The door to the unknown outside
passed within his field of view for a
second as he moved about his work.
The sight of it tripped something in
his chest, and he feU again that
strange sensadon of growing power,
of inherent change. First had come
simple awareness; and then symbols
had found their place in his world;
and now he had discovered, in all
its consuming fullness, curiosity.
He carefully shorted out the cut-
He was free.
He stared at the board and the
blinking lights and the huge dials
with their swaying needles, at the
levers and handles and buttons, and
revelled in his freedom from them,
rocking to and fro and rolling gid-
dily from side to side, swamped
with the completeness of it.
The other two servomechs swung
over slightly so that they could bet-
ter cover the board alone,
M-75 spun and rolled toward
the great dgor.
His hands clanged loudly against
the door. The huge metal append-
ages, designed for other work than
this, were awkward at first. But he
was learning as he moved. He was
now operating in a new universe,
but the same laws, ultimately,
worked. The first failure of coordi-
nation between visual data and the
manipulation of metal hands quick-
ly passed. Half a dozen trials and
he had learned the new pattern,
and it became data for future learn-
He moved swiftly and deftly. He
clutched the handhold and rolled
backward, as he had seen the men
do. The door slid open easily before
his great weight and firm mechani-
He sped across the threshold,
spun to face into the maze, and
rolled down it, swinging sharply left
and right, back and forth, around
the corners of the jagged corridor.
Data poured into his sensors. His
awareness was a steady thing of
growing intensity now, and he fed
avidly on every fragment of infor-
mation that crashed at him from
the strange new world into which
he rushed headlong. He struggled
to evaluate and file the data as rap-
idly as it came to him. It seemed
to exceed his capacity for instan-
taneous evaluation to an increasing
degree that began to alarm him.
But driven by curiosity as he was,
he could only hurry on.
He burst into a huge room, a
room filled with roaring, rattling
sounds that meant nothing to him.
Two men stood before him, mak-
ing loud noises. He searched his
memory, and discovered only frag-
ments of the sounds they made filed
there. His curiosity, bursting, was
boundless, and for a moment he
was unable to decide which thing
in this expanding universe to pur-
sue first. Attracted by their move-
ment, he swung ominously toward
They fled, making more noises.
This, tooj was data, and he filed it.
WHEN SOKOLSKI pressed
the red emergency button on
his way out of the control room,
several things commenced. Shrill
sirens howled the length and
breadth of the plant. Warning bells
THE SMALL WORLD OF M-75
clanged out coded signals. A re-
corded voice blurted out of a
thousand loudspeakers scattered
throughout the building.
**Now hear this," said the tireless
voice, over and over again. "Now
hear this. Red red red. Pile trouble.
Reactor A. Procedure One com-
Sokolski had certainly never
pressed the red button before, and
to his knowledge neither had any
of his or Gaines' predecessors. It
was the kind of button that, right-
fully, ought never to be pressed.
The laws of things in general sort of
made it a comfort without much
value. Pile trouble calling for the
red button should really have elim-
inated the red button and much
surrounding territory long before it
got pushed— or at least the sort of
pile trouble its builders had in
mind. Nonetheless, they had pro-
vided it and the elaborate evacua-
tion operation so cryptically de-
scribed as Procedure One as a kind
of psychological sop to the plant
But the red button did more than
activitate Procedure One, which
was solely concerned with the plant.
After all, power from the reactors
was lighting the lights and cooking
the breakfasts and flushing the toi-
lets of untold millions scattered in
half a dozen major cities. If there
were some imminent possibility that
the major source of their power
might cease to exist rather sudden-
ly, it was proper that they sliould be
notified of this eventuality as much
in advance as possible. Consequent-
ly the activation of the red button
and the commencement of Proce-
dure One was paralleled by activi-
ties hardly less frenzied in other
places, far away.
Emergency bells sounded and
colored lights danced, martial laws
automatically enacted by their
sound and flicker. The wheels of
crisis turned and spewed forth from
their teeth rudely awakened police-
men half out of uniform, military
reservists called up to find them-
selves patrolling darkened streets,
emergency disaster crews assem-
bling in fire houses and on ap-
pointed street corners, doctors gath-
ering in nervous clutches at fully
aroused hospitals and waiting be-
side ambulances tensed for wild
dashes into full-scale disasters.
Where it was night when the warn-
ing sounded, darkness descended as
desperate power conservation ef-
forts were initiated; where it was
daylight, the terrified populace
waited in horror for the blackness
of the unlit night. All of this, of
course, took only minutes to get
fully under way.
Meanwhile, at the plant. Pro-
cedure One continued in full wild
M-75 DID NOT immediately
follow Gaines and Sokolski
out of the room. Fascinated by the
multitude of new things surround-
ing him on every side, he held back.
He ghded over to the master con-
trol panel, puzzled by its similarity
to the board before which he had
slaved so long, and lingered before
it for a few seconds, wondering and
comparing. Wlien he had recorded
it completely on his tapes, he swung
away and rolled out of the room in
the direction the two men had gone.
ED M. CLINTON, JR.
He found himself in a long,
empty corridor, lined by open doors
that flickered by, shutterlike, as he
flashed past. Ahead he heard new
sounds, sounds like the meaningless
cacaphony the men had shouted at
him before rushing off, superina-
posed over the incessant background
sounds — the shrilling, the clanging,
the one particular repetitive pat-
tern. Some of the sounds touched
and tugged at him, but he shook
them ofl' easily.
The corridor led into the foyer
of the building, jammed with plant
personnel. Their excitement and
noise-making rose sharply as he en-
tered. The crowd drew tighter and
the men began fighting one an-
other, struggling to get through a
door that was never meant to han-
dle more than two at a time.
M-75 skidded to a halt and
watched, unmoving. He sensed
their fright, even though he could
not understand it. Although he was
without human emotion, he could
evaluate their inherent rejection of
him in their action pattern. The
realization of it made him hesitate;
it was something for which he had
no frame of reference whatsoever.
His chest hummed and clicked.
Here, again, in this room, was an-
other new universe. Through the
door streamed a light of a brilliance
beyond anything in his experience;
his photocells cringed before its
The light cast the shadows of the
men fighting to get out, long black
wavering silhouettes that splashed
across the floor almost to where
M-75 rested. He studied them, lost
in uncertain analysis.
He remained so, poised, alert, fil-
ing, observing, all the while com-
pletely unmoving, until long after
the last of the shouting men had
left the room. Only then did he
move, hesitantly, toward the in-
fernally fierce light.
He hung at the brink of the three
stone steps that fell away to the
grounds outside. Vainly he sought
in his memory tapes for a record of
a brightness as intense as tliat which
he faced now; sought for a color re-
cording similar to the vast swash
of blue that filled the world over-
head; or for one of the spreading
green that swelled to all sides. He
The vastness of the outside was
He felt a vague uneasiness, a sen-
sation akin to the horrible frenzy he
had felt earlier in the pile.
He rotated from side to s;ide, his
receptors sweeping the whole field
of view before him. With infinite
accuracy his perfect lenses recorded
the data in all its minuteness, de-
spite the dazzling sunlight.
There was so much new that it
was becoming difficult to make de-
cisions. The vast rolling green, the
crowds of men grouped far away
and staring at him, above all the
searing light. Abruptly he re-
jected it all. He swung back into
the foyer of the plant and faced a
dark corner, bringing instant, es-
sendal relief to his pulsating photo-
Staring into the semi -darkness, he
re-ran the memory tape of his es-
cape from the pile. The farther he
had moved from the pile, it seemed,
the less adjusted he had become,
the less able he was to judge and
THE SMALL WORLD OF M-75
Silently, lost in his computations,
he rolled around and around the
foyer for a long, long time. He be-
came aware, finally, that the bril-
liance outside had paled. He went
again to the door and watched the
fading sunlight, caught the rain-
bow splendor that streaked the eve-
He waited there, fighting the re-
luctance inside himself. The driving
curiosity that had brought him this
far overcame that curious, perplex-
ing reticence, and he looked down
at the steps and measured their
width and depth so that he might
set up a feedback pattern. This
done, he bounced, almost jauntily,
He had rolled perhaps fifty feet
down the smooth pathway curving
across the grounds when he made
out, clearly discernible in the gath-
ering dusk, the three men and the
machine that were moving toward
him. It was the last bit of datum he
The demolition squad had fin-
ished with the hot remains of M-75,
and their big tiuck was coughing
away into the night. One by one,
the floodlights that had lighted
their work flickered out.
"Pretty delicate machines, after
all," commented Sokolski. "One jolt
from that flame thrower . . ."
Gaines was silent as they walked
back toward the plant. "Bert," he
said slowly, "what the hell do you
suppose got into him?"
Sokolski shrugged. "You were the
one who spotted the trouble with
him, Joe. Just think, if you could
have checked him out complete-
Gaines could not help looking up
at the stars and saying what he had
really been thinking all along, "It's
a small world, Bert, a small world."
• • • THE END
A MONSTER named Smith
By James Gunn
Illustrated by Paul Orbon
It was alien, indestructible and mysterious — there-
fore a terror and a menace. It was also alone, hungry
and afraid — therefore prone to miscalculation.
PANIC! Isolation! Terror!
Blind, mindless, insensate. Odor-
less, dumb, deaf. Fear.
Pressure from within, instinctive
and powerful. Around it, a constric-
tion. Cause unknown. Conflict.
One sense remains. Listen! Send
out feelers through the darkness!
Somewhere there must be some-
thing else alive. Somewhere there
is a reason for fear. Listen!
"The board shows a gap on Har-
rison. If open, detail a company to
close it up. General orders to all
searching parties : every building
will be thoroughly searched, inside
and out, top to bottom. Search ev-
erything, in, under, above. Parties
will not proceed until certain that
every building is clear, every eavc
and rooftop is clean."
"Is that right, Mr. Gardner?"
"Don't ask me," Gardner
snapped. "Mr. Burke is in charge
here." He turned to Burke. "As city
manager, I can't permit the city to
be shut down indefinitely on mere
suspicion. Besides the personal dis-
tress and inconvenience, this shut-
down is costing the city millions of
dollars an hour . . ."
"Would you rather be a zombi —
you and all the other millions of
people in the city?"
"You have a wild imagination.
You don't know that the thing can
take over a man. You aren't even
sure that it escaped. And if some-
thing did escape, you can't be sure
it's still alive. There was no reason
for the declaration of martial law."
"I'll give you a reason," Burke
explained quietly. "The animal is
dead. Cold, stony. No doubt about
it. The deceleration killed it. With
extraterrestrial fauna, we have to
work fast. We can't be sure how
soon decomposition will set in or
how the internal organs will be af-
fected. The body is in the examina-
tion room, on the dissecting table,
within minutes after landing. But
before we can make an incision,
something starts oozing out from
under it. A black blob . . ,"
"Good God! What's that?" Dan-
iels was more startled than afraid.
He was staring at the sheep-like
animal on the dissecting table. The
scalpel was poised in his hand-
Burke was afraid. He had been
afraid for a long time. "Parasite,"
he said. He spat it out viciously, as
if that would deny his fear.
The inky blob continuel to ooze.
Ellis, who had insisted, like
Burke, on being present as an ob-
server, was calm and analytical as
usual. "Not necessarily," he said.
"Gould be a symbiosis."
"Symbiosis is a careful balance,"
Burke said violently. "For us it's a
parasite. Dangerous. What 1 was
afraid of all along."
"Okay, okay," Daniels put in
quickly. "The question is, what do
we do with it?"
"Not so fast," Ellis said. "We
can't be sure it^s dangerous. This
opportunity might be unique."
"It took over this thing," Burke
pointed out. "It's an animal, like
us. We can't take the chance that it
could adapt itself to man,"
The blob oozed. It was bigger
than a hand, now.
"It has to have a means of propa-
gation," Burke said, suppressing a
shudder. "It's amorphous, like an
amoeba. Binary fission is indicated.
If so, then no one on Earth is safe.
We sliouldn't have brought it
The blob oozed. It was the size
of a dinner plate. It had begun to
thin out near the body.
Ellis sighed. "Kill it."
Daniels sliced down with the
scalpel in his hand. It passed ef-
fortlessly through the blob, as if
through a shadow, and skidded
along the stainless steel top of the
table. The blob, uncut, continued
to pull itself free of the animal.
It was like a pool of ink. There
was no smell to it and maybe no
feel either, but no one offered to
touch it. It was just black. Inno-
cent, maybe, but black and alien
and therefore evil.
Daniels was shaken. Without rea-
"Obviously it can't be cut or shot
or hurt by any such weapon," Burke
"Well, do something," Daniels
stammered. "Don't just stand there
talking about it. It's pulling Itself
free. It'll be coming after one of us
in a minute."
Ellis glanced around the room.
"The door's closed. Nobody leaves
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
"What good will that do," Dan-
iels objected strenuously, "if it can
"Flesh and steel are two different
substances. It hasn't entered the
"You mean we're stuck here with
that thing until it gets us or we can
find a way to kill it?" Daniels
Ellis nodded impatiently. "Obvi-
ously." He studied the room again.
"Somewhere within these walls we
have to find a weapnn or a poison."
By now Burke had collected a Ut-
ter of bottles from the reagent cabi-
net. He tried them on the blob.
Acids and bases, one by one they
poured into the blackness and
fumed together and dripped onto
the floor to eat holes in the rubber-
ized covering. The body of the ani-
mal began to dissolve in the grow-
ing puddle on the tabic. The stench
of the chemicals and their reaction:^
was almost stifling. Nobody seemed
The blob pulled and thinned and
grew larger and remained unaltered
by the chemicals. Burke looked
around hastily. He grabbed up a
burner, turned it on, lit it. It burned
blue and hot.
He held it upside down, pointed
toward the black pool. The blob
squirmed. Burke pressed the burner
close. The blob moved quickly,
moved away from the flame, and as
it moved the last strand of blackness
pulled loose from the dissolving,
"Quick!" Daniels said hysterical-
ly. "Before it gets away! It's afraid
of the fire!"
Burke hadn't waited. He held the
flame as close to the blob as he
would get it. "We need a blow-
torch," he said.
The blob squirmed. It flowed
away from the flame, across the ta-
ble, and the flame looked as if it
turned back from the blackness.
But it wasn't that. There just wasn't
enough gas pressure. The flame
curled up naturally.
The darkness wavered. Its edges
curling. It wriggled and began to
flap, first one side and then the oth-
er, alternating. Slowly, awkwardly,
it began to fly. It climbed into the
air and circled around the room
silently, a blot of darkness.
"Close tlic ventilators!" Ellis said
Burke raced to the side of the
room and pulled the switch that
slipped steel shutters across the
"Oh God, oh God!" Daniels was
saying. He cringed beside the ta-
ble, shaking, as the blackness
"The interpenetration is obvi-
ously variable," Ellis said. "Other-
wise it couldn't fly."
"Or the only thing it can pene-
trate is flesh," Burke amended. He
was searching the room for another
The circular shadow flapped its
way high into one corner of the
room. It pressed itself against the
ceiling and clung, unmoving. It
looked like a black stain. They
stared up at it, the three of them,
with different eyes. Ellis was curi-
ous; Burke was murderous; Daniels
"Stay away from that door!" El-
Daniels stopped. He was shaking
as he looked back over his shoulder.
"We can't kill it," he said. His
voice shook, too. *'What do we do?
Wait here until it decides which
one of us it wants?"-
"If we have to," Ellis sajd.
"The question is, how long can it
live outside a host?" Burke said. *'It
isn't breathing. Presumably, it can't
eat in its present form. But it does
use up energy. If we can't kill it, we
can starve it to death."
"Unless we starve first/' Daniels
"We'll run out of air before
then." Ellis observed.
"We'll have to take a chance.
One of us will leave for a blow-
torch," Burke said.
"Me!" Daniels panted. "Me!"
"I'm staying here," Burke said.
"I don't want to let it out of my
sight. You're staying here, too, Dan-
iels. We want someone who will
come back." He looked at Ellis ;
Ellis nodded. "I'll stand guard in
front of the door with the burner.
If you open the door just a crack,
you can slip through before it can
Daniels was standing by the ta-
ble where the animal was half-dis-
solved. His eyes were wild and
The burner hose wouldn't reach
to the door. Burke pulled oflT his
shirt, looked at Ellis, who was
standing beside the door, and held
his shirt close to the flame. The
shirt smoked and started to burn. In
two quick steps Burke was in front
of the door, his back to it, his eyes
on the blot of darkness that clung
to the ceiling.
"Go!" he said.
Ellis moved. And the blot moved,
swooping down at Burke. Burke
waved the flaming shirt. The door
behind him slipped open. The blot
swerved in the air, away from the
flames. It headed straight for Dan-
iels. Daniels screamed. He put his
arms around his head and sprinted
blindly for the door.
The blot followed him, only a
foot behind. Burke glanced at them,
at Daniels and the blot, and he
tried to do two things at once. He
lowered his shoulder at Daniels and
tossed the burning shirt at the blot.
Somehow, both missed. Daniels
sidestepped instinctively, and the
blot swerved in the air.
Flesh smacked solidly against
flesh. Something snapped. As Burke
spun around, he caught a glimpse
of the blot slipping through the
door. Daniels was gone.
"Commander!" Burke gasped.
Ellis raised a white face from the
floor. "Broken leg/' he said, and
Burke turned and ran toward the
intercom. "Air lock guard," he
snapped. "Close the lock. Emer-
Trained responses were quick. No
one questioned orders like that.
Burke heard the whirring of mo-
tors. Something clanged shut, with
"What's up?" asked a tinny voice.
"Anything get out that lock in
the last second or two?" Burke
"Anything, I said!"
"Well, no — I mean — I don't
think so. I had a feeling that some-
tiiing brushed past me like — like — '*
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
"Well, like a bat. Only it wasn't
a bat. What's going on any-way?"
"Hell to pay! Com room! Com
room! Put the radar on a small ob-
ject, about the size of a bird, flying
out from the ship! Whatever you
do, don't lose it! Then get Wasli-
ington. Secspacc. I'll be there in
five seconds. Doc! To the examina-
tion room on the double. Com-
mander's got a broken leg. And
send two men to pick up Daniels
and hold him for observation. He's
hysterical. Leaving now for the
Com room. OfT!"
Terror! Conflict! Pain! Isolation!
We are one. Once we were many.
The object falling from the sky,
gleaming in the sunlight, gleam
dimmed by a shortening leg of
Much later, the object opening
a mouth, black against the shiny
skin. Is the object hungry?
Things coming out, climbing
down, standing on the ground, two-
legged, tall. Beings.
"Sheep! I'll be damned. Nodiing
"Don''t be fooled. They're more
"Well, look at them. What would
you call them?"
"Yes, look at them. See them
standing there looking at us, as if
they could understand everything
"Now, Burke, don't let your im-
agination run away with you. I
agree, it's unlikely that they're iden-
ticaJ with our Earth sheep, but they
look like them and we might as well
call them that."
"It's a dangerous mental trick,
Commander. Wc delude ourselves
into thinking wc understand them
when wc give them a name."
"Maybe they look to you like
they're listening to us, but my guess
is that it's curiosity. After all, we're
the only other beings they've ever
"That's just it. Where's the rest
of the fauna? We've scouted every
land mass, and these are the only
animals we've seen. How do you ac-
count for that?"
"Why iJiould we have to?"
"Oh, God preserve us!"
"Be a little patient, Burke. We
all aren't ecologists. The others may
not see what's so obvious to you.
What's you're trying to say is that
evolution wouldn't produce just
"What do you think! Look at this
world. As pretty as a spring day.
Mild. Gentle. And inhabited by
nothing but these herbivores. And
not very many of them, either."
"I've seen plenty of them."
"Not under the circumstances."
"And you think these sheep
wiped out all the rest of the
"It could have been natural con-
"That destroyed everything but
these things? Nonsense."
"Well, then, they wiped out the
rest. So what?"
"How? Man has been top dog
on Earth for a long, long time, and
we haven't even come close to wip-
ing out our pests and carnivores.
As bloodthirsty as we are. What
does that make these things? It
makes them the mast deadly crea-
tures we've ever known."
"These sheep? Nuts!"
"It is a little farfetched, Burke."
"Think of this, then. What keeps
their numbers down? With all this
grazing land available, there's only
a fraction of the number of these
creatures that there should be. With
no natural enemies, with nothing to
prey on them, according to Malthu-
sian law tliey should expand in the
presence of abundant food to the
limit of the land to feed them, and
a little beyond. Like the rabbits in
Australia. Or man himself."
"Maybe their natural enemies are
small. Insects. Germs and viruses.
Or maybe they're almost sterile."
*'And maybe they control their
breeding. Or maybe it's controlled
for them. That's something we've
never been able to do. That fright-
ens me more than the other."
"You've just set foot on this
world and you're frightened al-
ready. What will you be like be-
fore we're ready to leave?"
"Gibbering. You think that's
funny, but a sensible man knows
when to be frightened. I'm afraid
Hosts! The thought was startling
and puzzled. Hosts, brothers, with-
out directors! Self-directed hosts
that have come from a long way off
in that thing they call a ship, from
the nightlights, where all are like
they are. Danger!
Later. Much later.
"I guess we're done. The map-
ping is finished. The ship is
crammed with samples of every-
thing we could lay our hands on.
The really thorough analysis will
have to wait until we get back to
Earth. But from our investigations
we can report that the expedition
exceeded our fondest hopes. I don't
see why colonization can't begin
immediately. We take off tomor-
"Samples of everything? You've
forgotten one. We haven't any
"Haven't seen any for weeks.
They've disappeared. Just after
Daniels decided he wanted one for
"Doesn't that seem significant to
"Now, Burke. Let's not get
started on that again."
"I suggest we put out traps to-
night. I don't feel that this survey
is complete when we don't have any
specimens of the dominant form
of life. The form of life, for that
"No! I don't agree. Taking back
specimens before wc understand
them would be incredibly danger-
ous. We don't know anything about
them. Give them a chance to get
loose on Earth, and we might have
the story of the rabbits in Australr
ia all over again."
"There's no chance of that,
Burke. We aren't going to give them
a chance to get loose. And we've
seen nothing to indicate that they're
dangerous. You've been studying
them ever since we landed, and you
haven't discovered anything."
"A negative answer that's prac-
tically worthless. As you pointed out
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
a moment ago, they all disappeared
weeks ago. As long as I don't have
nnswcrs to the two questions I sug-
gested when we first landed, I must
regard them as the most dangerous
things we've ever pncountered. How
did they kill off their competitors?
And what controls their breeding?"
"I'm afraid Sccspace wouldn't
look at it that way. I'm afraid we
would bo considered derelict in our
duties if we returned without a
specimen. Although I'll put your
protest on record, of course."
"A specimen, you said?"
"All right, Burke. Just one.
There can't be any danger of them
multiplying. Will that satisfy you?"
"No. We can't be sure that they
propagate sexually. Not without
dissection which we haven't been
able to perform. But if it's the only
concession I can get — "
"It is. And you can console your-
self with the hope that the traps
will be empty tomorrow morning,
as they have been every other morn-
A specimen, brothers. One of us.
One? What is that? A host and a
director. One must go. Or they wilt
return to exterminate vs, as we ex-
terminated the others. One must go.
Which one? One ready for division.
One of us. This part of us. Go.
A belonging. We are not a wholS,
but a part of. We have a mission.
The pressure from within con-
tinues. It is agony, but it is agony
located and identified. We must
divide. That is it. TTiat is the pres-
sure. Wc are one. Once we were
many. We mast be loany again.
But there is terror, and while
there is terror we cannot divide-
Fear is a force that binds us
around, that closes us in so tight we
cannot divide. We need peace. We
must have peace. But we are en-
circled by enemies who seek to de-
stroy us. They will destroy us. un-
less we destroy them first. But we
are one, and they are many.
Learn. Learn the dangers of this
alien world. Learn the powers of
these alien beings. Learn survival.
Back. Back to the Enemy . . ,
TROOPS equipped with flame-
throwers will lead the advance.
They will fire at anything black,
any spot, any shadow. They will
fire first and ask questions after-
"Good God, Burke! Don't let
that order go out! You don't know
what you're saying. Think what will
happen if you tell soldiers to shoot
"I'm thinking what will happen
if they don't. There shouldn't be
anybody inside that area except the
searching parties. And firemen and
equipment are following the sol-
diers in to put out the fires . . . Air
patrol ! All flame-thrower equipped
helicopters will fire at any small fly-
ing object, bird or bat. Particularly
bats. They will keep pace with the
ground forces working in."
"But you don't even know that
the thing is in the city!'*
"We followed it by radar from
the ship until we lost It over the
center of the city. By that time
the permanent radar installations
around the city were alerted, and
we had a line of helicopters shoot-
ing down everything Uiat flies. Ra-
dar didn't pick up a thing. Don't
worry, we'll get it. We'll find it and
"But will there be anything left
when you get through. You're the
kind who would burn down a house
to get rid of termites!"
"Mr. Gardner. City manager or
not, one more outburst and I'll
have you ejected from primary con-
trol. You're here to help us with
your knowledge of the city, and all
I've heard so far is objections to
everything we do."
"Looters, Mr. Burke. Looters re-
ported inside the cordon."
"That area has to be kept clear.
The soldiers will shoot them down
on sight. Put that announcement
out through every media, radio,
television, loudspeakers. The bodies
will be incinerated where they fall.
All animals will receive the same
treatment. Let nothing that moves
slip through the cordon. . . .'*
That is the Enemy. Shrewd and
murderous. If we could only kill
him — But there is no chance. He is
too well guarded.
We are growing weak. We are
not meant for this kind of existence.
The escape, the long flight, and
now the internal struggle to divide,
stifled by terror, has sapped our
strength. We need food. For that
we must have a host. Where are we.
How close are the searchers and
Wc are blind without a host. We
starve without a host. And yet we
had no choice. We had to leave our
old host because it was dead. We
had to leave it to divide. And now
there is no peace, and we cannot
We can kill many of them, but
eventually they will destroy us. We
can swoop down on them and
touch them with death, but they
would turn their flames upon us,
and we would die. We felt it there
in the ship, when the flame was
turned toward us. We felt that we
had never known before, the possi-
bility of death. We, who arc Im-
mortal, could die.
Reach out, reach out! Find the
searchers ! How close are they ?
How do they work? Find out, so
that we can plan.
We reach. We fumble. We see . . .
The ni^t lit with brief, oily
flares that shred the darkness. The
marching ranks, watchful, ready.
The machines, rolling, ponderous.
The bright lights that roam ahead
and around and up.
"My God, Joe, look at It! An
army! What the hell's it all for?"
"You know as much as I do.
They just turned us out in the mid-
dle of the night and rushed us up
here like somebody's pants was on
fire. Look for something! What?
Hell, I don't know. Shoot at any-
thing that moves! Shoot at shad-
ows! With flame throwers! Some-
body's gone off his nut, I guess."
A shadow leaps in a shielded cor-
ner. A nozzle spits greasy, licking
flame. Wood smokes and then
bums. A stream of water hisses on
it, turning into steam.
The marching ranks halt. The
machines stop. Only the lights keep
moving. The helicopters hang mo-
tionless in the air above, black noz-
zles poking out from them like a
dragon's smoky nostrils, landing
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
lights burning down onto the roof-
"Company A will take the build-
ing to the right. Company B will
take the building to the left. They
wilt work their way to the top and
onto the roof. From the top story
windows they will look up toward
the eaves. Burn anything black,
any shadow, anything. Firemen will
follow with hand extinguishers. Re-
maining companies will stay in
ranks until the search is completed.
Up through the building, search-
ing for shadows. Climbing long
steps, peering up and down
elevator shafts, inspecting every
cranny, drawer, crack. Lifting rugs,
turning over furniture, removing
cushions. Shooting fire at shadows.
Up and up. Feeling a little silly,
but impressed, somehow, by the
size of the operation, and the ser-
iousness, and being thorough be-
cause the captain is watching. A
shot, below in the street, echoing
up. Rush to the window; peer out.
A civilian is in the street below,
stretched out. You know that he is
dead. As you watch, flame black-
ens the body, eats at it until there
h only a cinder.
"What's the matter, boy? Nerv-
"Hell, yes! Ain't you?"
And eventually you go down and
out and the ranks march on a few
paces and halt and this time it is
your turn to wait in the street while
other companies search. In the dis-
tance you can see other helicopters
hovering, their lights brilliant, a
circle of them. The center seems to
be the black hulk of the public li-
brary . . .
Hopeless! They are all around,
these alien killers, these hosts with-
out directors. We are one, and they
are many. We despair. We will die
here, wherever we are. We can
reach out and feel them, closing in
upon us from every direction. The
circle draws in upon us, nearer,
nearer . . ,
And someone approaches. We
sense the thought, slow and stum-
bling. It is not one of the searchers.
They are still fairly distant. He
"Public library. Nothing there.
Nothing but books. Got to hurry.
They'll be here soon. Before that I
got to find me a place to sleep or
seem Hke it. They're killing people.
A chance, a chance. The thought
sings through us like a surge of
energy. He is below. We sense him
there. That means that we are
above him, clinging under the roof
of the building he thinks of as the
Will he welcome us or fight? Is
he weak or strong? It does not mat-
ter. Wc have no choice. We must
take the chance. If we can get
nourishment and sight, if we can
get outside the searchers, we can
reach a place of safety and peace
where we can leave him, where we
can divide. And it must be soon. He
will die, of course, and it is unfor-
tunate. But we have no choice.
Let loose, now. Release our hold.
Fall through the air, fluttering at
first, then swoooping down upon
him. Wc reach out to him, and he
suspects nothing. His mind is busy
with other things, the things he is
looking for, like the things he has
hidden in his pockets.
Down upon him. Closer. Slowly
now. He fccis nothing as we light.
His thoughts move on, busy, roiled.
Let the probes reach in through the
back of the ncr.k, delicately. There!
He stands stiffly, immobile, a
Bcream echoing through his mind,
silent, unvoiced. But as wc go in,
he shrinks back, not fighting, some-
how relieved, and we are puzzled,
Wc did not think it would be so
easy. But it cannot matter, and we
must hurry. We sink through t}ie
back of his neck, following the
probe that seized the control centers
of the brain.
Quickly we send microscopic
feelers down through the nerve net-
work, branching, branching, until
they reach the ends of the e-xtrcmi-
ties and dig down into the deepest,'
smallest organs of the body. We
test out the network gently, and
control is effective. Before we go
any further, we must take precau-
tions. Jerkily, unsteadily, we move
the body into the shadows. Clum-
sily, we lay the body down beside
the building. We relax it all over.
The searchers will have to be al-
most upon us before they see.
Relaxed, the body is more acces-
sible, and we are eager; we are hun-
gry. Fecleri reach out through the
blood vessels, absorbing food as
they go. When that circuit is com-
pleted, wc are satiated. Our hunger
is appeased. We feel a relaxation
ourselves, a lowering of our aware-
ness, and we must fight it. There is
much to do; there is no time for
Now wc must take the last step.
We hesitate, not knowing why we
hesitate, and we send out a final set
of feelers through the alien brain.
searching for the seat of memory.
We find it. We begin to learn. We
learn more as we go deeper. We
learn a new identity.
MY NAME is Smith. George
Smith. I am a laborer. I have a
wife and four children. An identi-
fication card in my billfold de-
scribes a man, but it isn't me. Thirty
years old, it says. Brown hair, brown
eyes. Five feet nine. One hundred
sixty pounds. Scar on right fore-
head. Tatoo of woman on left fore-
arm. That isn't me. Figures He. I
am bigger than that; I am taller
than that. I am only working as a
laborer until something better
I've been picking up things that
people left behind when they were
ordered out of here. They call it
looting, but it isn't that. It isn't
stealing. Somebody else will take
the things if 1 don't. The soldiers
— don't tell me that they don't do
all right by themselves when they
go through those places. Besides,
the things belong to me as much a.1
anybody else . . .
It goes on and on, not like that,
slow and ponderous, but as swiftly
as thought spanning the galaxy un-
til we know almost as much about
Smith as he knows, and maybe
more. We do not enjoy it. The un-
pleasantness of the man named
Smith is only part of the price we
must pay. But we hold back a lit-
tle still, and it consoles us that wc
will leave him when his body has
taken us to a place of safety and
peace. But wc will still have his
memories. They will stay with U9
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
The automatic processes of the
feelers have begnn. Subtly the body
is strengthened. Glands are stimu-
lated. Tissues are regenerated.
Wastes and old, accumulated poi-
sons are removed. But basically we
do not change anything. The man
named Smith must remain physi-
cally the same and undetectable. It
is irony that the body we have taken
possession of is now almost immor-
tal. It is vulnerable only to acci-
dents. Our automatic responses will
repel disease and revitalize aging
tissues and perform innumerable
other tasks which protoplasmic bod-
ies can do poorly, if at all. The ca-
pabilities are there, but the inef-
ficient brain does not use them. The
body is immortal, and yet, when we
leave, it must die.
Now, of all the possible hosts on
Earth, this one has a director; it
can enjoy the blessings of sanity
It has been a rape, not the meet-
ing of two mutually acquiescent
parts, incomplete in themselves, to-
gether a whole entity which is more
than the sum of both. With our for-
mer host, it had been a pleasant,
gently sensual experience of unit-
ing and sharing, and afterwards it
had been a completeness, a partner-
ship by which both parties profited.
Here there had been no chance of
that. We knew it from the begin-
ning. These things called men are
Now we have an identity. Sur-
vival dictates that we become that
identity. We must act like it; a slip
means destruction. We must think
like it. We must be "we" no longer.
We are one. We are I. I am a man
I OPEN my eyes and see. Lights
are close. I see them shining,
burning, only a block or two away.
On the other side, too, they will be
as close, or closer, and all around.
Soon they will be here, and I must
think quickly. For they will shoot
this body, and I would have to
leave again, and this time there
would be no second chance.
There are things in my pockets
tliat do not belong to me. If they
are found on me, it will be dis-
astrous. 1 take them out, rings,
watches, money, and I drop them
through the grating on which I lie.
But there is one thing in the pock-
ets I do not drop. It is a bottle. It
is a small bottle; it fits in my hand,
sloshing gently. I raise it to my lips
with a gesture that is almost auto-
matic, my nostrils wrinkling away
from the sharp odor. I drink. I
cringe from the body's reaction,
and then I drink again and let some
of the liquid dribble down my chin
onto my clothes.
I listen. I hear a shot, not far
away. Somebody screams and is si-
The next moment a blinding
light shines through my closed eye-
I make a loud, breathing noise,
trying to hide my fear. I lie there,
wondering if they will shoot or
bum me with flames, and the mo-
ment is eternity.
"Oh, hell! It's only a drunk!'*
"We oughta shoot him. That's
"Look at him. He musta been
layin' there all night."
"I can't shoot him. Can you?"
"Let's take him to the Captain."
"Wake up, there! Wake up!"
Prodding. Eyes fluttering open,
peering out, glazed and dull, into
the light. One arm coming up
across the eyes, protectively.
"Hey you! Get up!"
"Whassa matter? Whass goin'
"Get up. Up on your feet!"
"Can't man lay down for a little
"Come on! Get up! We aJn't got
"Aw rig;ht, aw right."
I wobble to my feet. 1 stand there
swaying. I sec their noses wrinkling,
and I smell the sharp odor again.
They close in upon mc. They lead
me ofT. I stumble along between
them, my head drooping, for an in-
"What's your name?"
"Name? Name's Smith. George
Smith. What's yours?"
"Ugh! Search his pockets. Get
out his identity card, too."
They fumble through my pockets
and pull out my billfold. The world
wants to spin around me. I let it
"What's your line of work?"
"Work for Ricger. Warehouse.
Big man, Rieger. Lotsa money, lotsa
'nfluence. 'Ma union man. Citizen.
Got my rights."
"What were you doing here?'*
"Can't man lay down for little
snooze? Eh? No law 'gainst it. Eh?
Broke a law or somethin'? Pay fine?
Okay." I reach fumblingly for my
billfold. It is gone. I let my hand
"Oh, hell! Let him go! Give him
back his billfold, and one of you
had better escort him through the
lines. Get his head shot ofT other-
A long, stumbling walk through
darkness and sudden light, alternat-
ing, until suddenly there is nothing
but darkness, and we stop.
"Okay, Bud. You're out. From
here on, you're on your own. Just
keep heading that way, and I hope
you don't remember anything in
the morning. Because if you do,
you'll start shaking and you won't
be able to stop."
I am shaking now, inside. I am
weak as he disappears into the dark,
and I don't know whether it is he-
cause I am unused to this alien
body or because of the liquid I
drank which my feelers have picked
up from the veins. I reach out
again. I reach out to contact the
Enemy again, and it is more diffi-
cult now, because of the body or the
liquid or the weak shaking, but I
find him at last.
"It isn't over. The search can't
be over. They haven't found it yet."
**They've met. The searching
parties have come together. They've
gone all over the public library, and
there isn't any place else for them
to search. Relax, Burke, the thing
"No, no, Ellis. It's alive, I tell
you. They missed it somewhere.
You haven't been on top of this
thing like I have. While you've been
getting your leg set, I've been di-
recting this operation, and I've got
a feeling for it. The monster is
lurking somewhere. It isn't dead."
"You've been with it too long.
You've been with it ever since we
landed on that damned planet. Now
it's hard for you to realize that it's
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
over. Look at it logically. The sol-
diers went over that section of town
with a tea strainer. They didn't miss
a thing. You've done a good job,
Burke. I'll see that you get credit
"Damn it, I don't want credit.
I want that thing dead. I want to
see it for myself and know it's dead.
I don't want to dream about it any
more. If the troops got it, why
didn't they report that they had?"
"How long do you think it would
Ia.st in the inferno of a flame throw-
er? I saw them working as I came
across town. Whoosh! Whoosh!
Firing at shadows. And that's how
it would vanish. Just like a shadow.
No one would know. It's inciner-
ated now; there's nothing left."
"Yes, and maybe it's hiding some-
where. Some cranny that the sol-
diers missed. They aren't perfect.
A crack in the pavement. A water
pipe. A thousand places they
wouldn't tliink of."
"And starved to death. It wasn't
meant to live independently. It was
a parasite, which means that it
couldn't exist for very !ong without
"Not necessarily. Some parasites
have a free-living stage ; others
have one or more intermediate
hosts. But analogies are u-ielcss and
deceptive. This isn't one of our
parasites. It's extraterrestrial, and
it may not follow terrestrial pat-
terns. Even granting that it would
die within a few hours of free-liv-
ing, that leaves one terrible possi-
"Maybe it found a host."
"An animal, you mean? A dog or
a cat? Or a bird?"
"Or a man.**
"But you ordered all the looters
"I know, I know. But if only one
escaped, through somebody's care-
lessness or sonibody's misplaced
IT IS FOLLY to linger hero in the
darkness any longer. But I hesi-
tate, and I catch one la^:t thought.
"There's only one thing to do.
Nobody leaves the city until we've
checked on them. All animals are
to be incinerated. We'll have to
have the biggest manhunt and ex-
termination this country has ever
seen . . ."
I hurry away. I don't much care
which way I go, and I walk pur-
poselessly along the dark streets,
spotted occasionally with overhang-
ing lights. I can't leave the city.
Not now, anyway. I will have to
wait until their measures fail. They
must fail, now, and their only
chance is for me to make a slip. If
I can act Hke all the rest of the
hosts, I will be safe and they wilt
finally give up.
Meanwhile die pressure to divide,
submerged for the moment, will
grow stronger and stronger inside
me, inside this alien body. I will
have to keep it for awhile yet. and
I hate every moment of it. It is a
leaden weight I am forced to push
along. It is stubborn and Heshy and
My feet turn at a lighted door-
way, and I push myself inside a
room before I can stop. I stand in
the doorway, blinking, wondering
why I have come in, and it is a
strange thing to be wondering.
"George!" someone says.
It is a woman, a female. She
throws a soft arm around my neck
and drags mc farther into the room.
The lights fight unsuccessfully
through a smoky haze. There are
hoothfi along the sides, and chairs
and tables in the center, and a bar
across the other end of the room.
"Where you been?" the woman
T search through Smith's memory
for a face and a name, and I find
them. Dolores. "I been watching
the soldiers, Dolores," I say.
It is important that I do not
artyuse suspicions. In the next few
days questions will be asked. I
would like to leave this place, but
I do not dare. There was something
about Dolores in the memories I
could not force myself to search. I
must wait a little until my leaving
will go unnoticed.
"What they lookin* for, hey,
"How do I know? I'm a mind
reader or something?"
"I bet it's a bomb. Somebody
planted a bomb, and they're lookin'
for it. That's it, I bet."
"Maybe. They were shooting
"No kiddin' ! Here, have a drink."
A glass is thrust into my hand. A
head is leaned against my chest ;
tangled hair brushes irritatingly
against my face.
"Phew! You already had a few."
She leads me to a booth and
forces me down into it and slides
in beside me, her thigh hot against
mine. "You ain't drinkln* George,"
she complains loudly. She leans to-
ward me. "What you get?" she
I reach into her mind, reluc-
tantly, shuddering at the maelstrom
of twisted thoughts and fears and
hopes and passions. She and Smith
had been intimate. Just tonight she
persuaded Smith to sneak into the
closed area to pick up whatever he
"Nothin'," I say.
"Nothin' !" She says it loudly,
angrily. Quickly, she begins to
whisper again. "What you mean by
that? Why didn't you get anything?
What are you trying to do, hold out
"Oh, shut up!"
"Maybe you think you can push
me around," she says, her voice
rising. "Maybe you think you can
cheat me and get away with it.
Think again. Remember, I can tell
them you was in there. They
wouldn't like that, I bet. I bet I
could get you in a lot of trouble."
"For God's sake, .shut up!" I
whisper violently. '"You'll get us
both in trouble. Don't you under-
stand? I couldn't get in. They were
shooting people, anybody they saw,
and then they were burning them.
Maybe you'd rather I was laying
in there, dead and fried.*'
She sags against the back of the
booth ; her body is a mass of fat
curves with creases between them.
"Oh, well, it was a chance. What
we couldn't have done with a few
thousand, eh, Georgie?" Her voice
is wistful. "You could have skipped
out on your wife and brats, and I
could have skipped with you, and
we couldVe ditched this town and
had a gay old time. Oh, hell! Drink
up, Georgie. Tomorrow we die."
I raise the glass and take a swal-
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
low and almost gag. I feel it bum
down my throat and lay burning
in the pit of my stomach. The
rising fumes make my head swim.
Her leg presses more firmly against
mine as she leans over against me
and puts, her arms around mc and
lays her head on my shoulder.
"We still got our health, eh,
Georgie?" she says, "We still got
"Yeah," I say.
"Gome on up to ray room," she
whispers. "We'll show the world
what we care."
I catch a glimpse of her mind. It
is wide open, and I am sickened.
I try not to show it. I try to act
"Can't," I say, and the words are
difficult to get out as if the lips are
trying to form another word. "Late
now. I got to work tomorrow. And
Agnes is gonna raise hell as it is."
She sits up sullenly. "Funny you
never thought of any of that be-
The thing I want most in the
world is to stop touching her. "I
had a bad time tonight," I say. "A
coupla times they almost caught
"Poor GeorgieT" she says quickly,
sympathetically. Her hand reaches
out to stroke my face. "I didn't
know it was gonna be that bad."
I try to stand up. The room
wobbles. "I got to get out of here,"
I say. "I don't feel good."
"Sure,^ George. Finish your
I hesitate, and the glass is half-
way to my lips before I know it,
and I let it come the rest of the way
and drink it down. She slips out of
!the booth, and I slip out, and she
stands next to me, hanging on my
"Tomorrow night?" she whispers.
The body feels sick, and I feel
sick inside the body. But it's worse
than that. I'm afraid.
"Yeah," I get out through stiff
lips, and I find my mouth brushing
against hers, and I pull myself away.
I thread my way between the tables,
unsteadily, and I get out into the
night, and I'm breathing deeply.
The next thing I know I'm
climbing steep steps in a dark cor-
ridor, and I don't know how I got
I'm not climbing alone. Fear is
climbing with me.
I CLIMB and I turn and I climb
again, and the darkness is thick
with stale odors of cooked food. I
try to figure out what I'm doing
here and how I got here, but I feel
vague and feeble, and the body,
staggering a little, keeps climbing
purposefully. Except that it can*t
have a purpose; I am its purpose.
I can stop, if I want, but I let the
body go on to its unknown destina-
I stop in front of a dark door.
My hand reaches out. It has a key
in it. The key fits into the keyhole
and rattles and turns. The other
hand eases the door open. I slip
through into the room beyond and
close the door gently behind me.
I walk through the room, ma-
neuvering around unseen objects
unerringly, although my feet are
heavy and clumsy, and I find my
hand on the knob of another door.
I turn it gently. It begins to open.
It creaks. I hesitate.
"George?" It is a low, harsh
voice, disembodied in the darkness.
"So you finally came home."
There is no welcome here. The
voice is bitter and spiteful.
I walk into the room and ease
myself into a chair I don't know
is there, and I reach out wearily
toward the voice in the darkness.
There is a bed there, and a woman
is on the bed, and the woman is
Smith's lawful mate. While I am
Smith, she Is my lawful mate. I
touch her mind and recoil.
Hate! Violent and vicious. Hate
doubled because it was once some-
thing else. Hate redoubled because
it is impotent.
My hands reach down to untie
my shoes. But inside the body, I am
searching frantically for an excuse
to get away. And I can't think of
"You run out of money or did
Dolores get tired of you?"
"Nuts!" I say.
"You have something to eat?"
"We had mush."
"That's the third time this week."
"I'd think you'd want your kids
to have a decent meal once in a
"I give you money," I say loudly.
"It ain*t my fault you dirow it
away on candy and magazines and
"What else I got?" she says. "Fat
lot of money you give me."
A distant voice says, "Mama!'*
"You woke up the kids again,'*
she says wearily.
I hear the bedsprings creak. A
moment later an overhead light
comes on. I blink. She is in a thin,
ragged nightgown. Her face is hag-
gard and old, but the body under
the gown is still young. She walks
by me, and I find my hand reaching
out toward her. She twists away
from it. She looks at mc witli hard,
hating eyes, and her mouth curls
with revulsion. Slie walks through
the door and into the darkness be-
The bedroom is dirty and dis-
heveled. The light glares down from
a naked bulb hanging on a cord. It
swings back and forth. Shadows
sway around the room.
I reach out toward the other
minds. They are young. They are
"I heard him. He's drunk again."
"Why does he have to come
home? Why can't he stay away for-
"Mama says we wouldn't have
nothing to eat."
"I don't care. I don't care if we
eat mush all the time. It*s better
when he's gone."
"Sh-h-h. Mama's coming."
"Go back to sleep, boys. Every-
thing's all right."
"He's home, ain't he, Mama?"
"Yes. Go back to sleep.'*
"Why can't he stay away?"
"Don't say things like that. He's
"He ain't hurt you, has he.
"No. Of course not."
"If he hurts you tonight, I'll kill
him. I'll kill him."
Hate. Pouring out at me. Sur-
rounding me. Pressing down . . .
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
"You mustn't say things like that.
He's your father."
"He's not! He's not!"
"Be quiet now. Go back to sleep.*'
She returns. I hear her footsteps
echoing through the dark, the
sticky, odorous dark, and I look
around the room, and I wonder
why I am here, so far from the
clean meadows and the calm, gen-
tle hosts of my home world. And I
wonder how soon I can get away.
I wonder if I must spend a night
here, or more, sleeping in that bed
beside the body of the woman,
sensing her movements, listening to
her thoughts, torn with repugnance.
She is an enemy . . .
I have lived with danger for a
long time. Ever since the ship de-
scended upon our world, danger
has walked beside me. It didn't
matter so much there, because we
were many, but now I am one and
alone, and I am afraid.
These men are strange animals,
and I, who have strange powers
they never suspected until recently
— I am afraid of them.
I am in the body of a man
named Smith, and I hate it.
Smith f Smith f Where are you.
THE LIGHT is out and I crawl
into bed beside the woman. I lie
on one side of the bed, and she lies
on the other, and we listen to each
other breathing. I feel her hate.
I try to plan how I will get out
of the city and how I will leave this
alien body and seek the peace I
need before I can divide. I think
how I will find some of the animals
that Smith heard Of, and I will use
them as hosts until I am many
again, and we will take over this
world. Once there are many of us,
it will be simple. It will be painful
work, but simple.
But it is useless. All I can think
about is the woman lying there on
the other side of this uncomfortable
bed, and how I am surrounded by
strange ficsh and the flesh is sur-
rounded by hate.
I am shocked to find myself in
the middle of the bed. The dis-
covery paralyzes me for a moment,
and then I try to draw back. But
there are odd, undefinable things
working inside me. Uncontrolled
sensations quiver along the nerves
inside the body, quiver along the
feelers that lie microscopically in-
side the nerves. Glands are dis-
charging their secretions into the
body. The process seems automatic;
I can't stop them. The body, too,
must have automatic responses. It
reaches toward the woman.
"George!" she says in a low,
vicious voice. "Get away from me."
T put my hand on her. She
writhes away from it, her flesh
shrinking. I get closer. She strug-
gles; she hits at me with her fists.
1 pin her hands behind her with
one of mine. I lower my head over
hers, kissing her lips that twist like
snakes under mine.
^'George! Don't!" she snaps,
when I raise my head for a mo-
ment. "The children are listening."
The body goes on doing things
that I can't control. I can't control
anything now. Flesh speaks to flesh,
and the emotions working inside me
are wild and violent. I try to shut
myself away from them. I try to
cower back, to disengage myself,
but it is no use.
"George," she says. I hear the
voice distantly. "George! You filthy
beast! Don't cdtiie crawling to me
after you've been with that wom-
But her voice is softenings and
her body is softening, too. As I
release her hands, they do not claw
at mc. They try to push mc away,
but they arc weak and incflTectual.
Horror is inside the body with
me, and I cannot help what the
body is doing. Sweat rolls ofT our
"You bea.st," she says again.
"You beast." But her voice is dif-
ferent now. She isn't pushing me
away any more.
And the worst part is that be-
neath that surface response is the
hate, still there, as violent and un-
appeasable as ever.
Later I find myself lying on the
other side of the bed again. My
senses are dulled with horror, and
the body is dull, too. It is drifting
"You devil," the woman says in
a wild, torn voice. "I hate you."
And the body sleeps, soddenly.
But / do not sleep. I cannot
sleep, like the body, and forget. I
must Hc7 awake and remember. And
one thought* violent and powerful,
drives all the others before it.
Get away, now! Get free from
the body before tt wakes again and
does other terrible, uncontrollable
things. There is danger! Ignore it!
Pull free now, before it^s too late.
I know that I can't stand it any
longer. I must be free again. Per-
haps this time I can find an animal,
some pet, or better, a small animal
like a rat. It will have holes and
secret ways which the Enemy can't
find. Unlike us, he has been un-
able to exterminate his peists. He
will not be able to do it now.
The danger is great, but the
danger of staying is greater. I try
to begin the slow process of extri-
cating myself from this fleshy trap.
But the long, slender feelers will not
slip from the nerves and tbe ves-
sels. They are entangled, glued fast.
Is that it? Or am I so weak that
I can't even control my own ex-
tensions any longer.
The body holds me, clinging to
every part of me. It won't let me
go. I cannot move. I pull with all
my strength. I send out imperious
commands along the tenuous feel-
ers. Nothing. Nothing happens.
There is only one chanr:' left. T
hesitate before taking it, but at
last I send out the impulses of de-
struction and dissolution. I don't
know what it will do to me, caught
as I am inside this body, but I don't
care any more. And it does nothing.
I relax, hopelessness and dismay
washing over me like the ancient
sea from which we came. I am
caught, irretrievably, finally. I have
no control over the body at all; I
no longer have any control over
my own being. Somehow, inexpli-
cably, the powerful, instintive re-
actions of this monstrous body have
welded me to it. We are bound to-
gether, indissolubly, until death.
A lifetime of terror and horror
stretches before me. I am a con-
sciousness imprisoned in a mass of
A MONSTER NAMED SMITH
flesh. Speechless, cut off from the
woiid, I will live only to suffer.
Smith! Smith! Where are you?
But there is no answer. Smith is
gone. It isn't Smith who has me,
who will not let me go; it is this
body. A lifetirue!
There is one chance, one chance
for freedom. There is one place I
can turn for help. The Enemy can
free me, and it no longer matters
if the freedom is death.
I reach out once more, des-
Search/ Search! Find him!
"Your plan is fantastic. I flatly
refuse to let this city be shut down
"Gardner's right, Burke. You can
take over a city for a few hours,
but when you start talking about
days it's impossible. And you can't
expect any results."
"Okay, Ellis. The plan was fool-
ish. I give up."
"Wait a minute. I'm all out of
breath. I was all prepared to argue
with you, and now you give up.
You must have thought of some-
"I just started thinking of the
thing as a parasite. Parasites are
usually particular about their hosts.
They're adapted to one species or
a few closely allied species, and
they can't change quickly. If the
thing escaped, I imagine it found
its host body uncongenial."
"Exactly, Burke. And I was go-
ing to make another point. In the
struggle for existence, the parasite
has chosen a negative reaction. It
has followed the line of least resist-
ance, giving up freedom and inde-
pendence for protection and a more
constant and usually richer supply
of food. It's a retreat from struggle.
Basically, it can't compete with
"Nevertheless, we must send out
a ship immediately to wipe that
world clean. We can't ^ve them a
chance to adapt."
"Just before I left the ship, I
received new orders from Sec-
"I suppose the thing is dead. . . ."
I slip away, my last hope gone.
They will not search me out. T'he
monsters! The monsters! The thing
isn't dead, but it would like to be.
It must live on until the host
dies. . . .
Dies! I remember. With a hor-
rible, sickened feeling, I remember.
The rejuvenating network I have
supplied this body has made it al-
My tormented imprisonment isn't
just for a lifetime. It is forever.
The sodden body sleeps, this
monster named Smith, while my
thoughts race madly.
The body sh i vers, very gently.
Deep inside itj a mute voice is
• • • THE END
Man is a rope connecting animal and Superman, a rope over a
precipice . . . What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not
a goal. — Nietzche
Will the lime machine ever become a reality? Will we ever be
able to go back in history and visit the scenes and heroes we've
read about? Will we ever be able to foresee events of the fu-
ture? Man has broken two barriers — space and sound — and
now he is working on another . . .
Breaking the TIME Barrier
An IF Fact Article
By Alson J. Smith
So FAR this century has seen
man breach space and sound,
two of the barriers that stood be-
tween him and a more complete
knowledge of the universe. Tlic air-
plane has reduced the vast dis-
tances of land and sea. to practical
nothingness, and the same marvel-
ous instrument has propelled hu-
man beings through the air at su-
personic speeds. A hundred years
ago only hair-shirted preachers,
psychotic cultists, and, opium -eating
science-fiction writers wei'C antici-
pating a day when men would hurl
themselves through the stratosphere
at speeds faster than the sound of
The second half of the century
may well give man victory over the
most enigmatic barrier of all —
time. Inconceivable? No more so
than travel at supersonic speeds
would have seemed to the foot sol-
dier in Wellington's army, or the
inter-planetary rocket to the in-
ventor of the steam locomotive. To-
day not only science-fiction writers
but sober scientists in a score of
university research centers are
quietly experimenting with the
hitherto inviolate timc-barrier — and
are breaching it every day.
Man has always been intrigued
by the problem of time. "What is
time?" cried St. Augustine. "If no-
body asks me, I know. But if I am
asked, I cannot say." Thousands
since then have toyed with the
question, and a few million words
have been written alxiut man's pre-
occupation with the nature of
time. It governs our lives; we
chronicle its passing with calendars,
clocks, sand and sun-dial, and
dread the slow or quick approach
of the final tick that frees us from
its domination. Yet— what is it? We
don't really know. Mathematically,
it is a convenient abstraction, a hu-
BREAKING THE TIME BARRIER
manly created device to regulate
men and events and bring some
sort of order into human relation-
ships. And yet, as Immanuel Kant
once obscrvt'd, \vc do not know that
the "order" which time describes
is the true order of the universe.
Maurice Maeterlinck had an in-
teresting theory. He comments on
the fact that the star Mira, in the
constellation of Balaena the Whale,
is sevcnly-two light years away from
our earth. Suppose there is on Mira
a civilization more advanced than
ours, and an astronomer with a
telescope powerful enough to dis-
tinguish clearly what is going on
on Earth. What the Mira astrono-
mer would see would not be Paris,
New York, or New Haven as they
are now, but as they were seventy-
two years ago — horse cars in the
street, bustles on the ladies and
Amos Alonzo Stagg playing left end
for Yale. There would be no trace
of two world wars, for they would
not yet have happened as far as the
astronomer on Mira was con-
cerned ; the present, for him, is that
which he sees. For him the buried
life of the past is the present.
Maeterlinck concludes : *'In this
plurality of times, which are merely
pure conventions, are not the events
of the future already present some-
where, just as the events of the
past are still present? They cannot
be stinted for room, since the pres-
ent is eternal, which means that it
is infinite in space as well as time."
Another interesting theory is that
held by Dr. C. D. Broad, the Eng-
lish scientist who is at present work-
ing at the University of Michigan.
Professor Broad believes that there
may be a second dimension of time.
which normally we know nothing
about, lying at right angles to our
familiar dimension. If there is this
second dimension, then events
which are separated by a time-gap
in one dimension may be joined
without any gap in the other, just
as two points on the earth's surface
which differ in longitude may be
identical in latitude. Our familiar
time might be represented by a line
going from west to east, and the
second or unknown dimension by a
line going from south to north. For
instance: Mother Shipton, who
lived in the sixteenth century, fore-
told the invention of the automo-
bile. Dr. Broad's theory would ex-
plain this by saying that although
in our familiar dimension the in-
vention of the automobile occurred
more than two centuries after
Mother Shipton's prediction, yet,
in the second dimension of time, it
occurred just before the prediction.
In other words, she was remember-
ing, not predicting.
One of the most careful theoreti-
cians about time was the late John
W. Dunne, a highly- respected Brit-
ish aeronatitical engineer whose
theories have been incorporated in
three hooks^Expcriment With
Time, The Serial Universe and
The New Immortality.
Dunne's interest in the time prob-
lem began with a scries of odd
premonitory dreams, in which he
dreamed of events exactly as they
would happen the day after he
Dunne decided that they were
ordinary dreams, but were dis-
placed in time. Instead of coming
after the event they were coming
befo re it. They were normal
ALSON J. SMITH
enough, but he was having them on
the wrong nights. He finally de-
cided that all dreams were made
up of images of the past, present
and future blended together in
equal proportions, and that the uni-
verse is really stretched out in time.
And the conventional view in which
the future is cut off from the pres-
ent and past is due to a purely
mentally-imposed barrier which ex-
ists only in the conscious mind. In
dreams we continually cross and re-
cross that nonexistent equator,
which we arbitrarily set across the
whole stream of time when we're
WE KNOW that time was not an
Absolute for the ancients; they
were very sure that the "impene-
trable" veil could be pierced, even
by the most ordinary of their num-
ber. The Pythia at Delphi was al-
ways a woman and generally one
of the ignorant rural population.
Yet, after fasting and inhaling the
sacred vapor_s in the temple, she
was believed to be capable of de-
livering messages from the gods and
predicting future events. Widi the
coming of modem science in the
15th and 16th centuries, however,
time was arbitrarily ruled an Abso-
lute. From then on a philosopher
like Kant, a mystic like Sweden-
borg, a psychologist like McDougall,
or even a heretical scientist like
Sir William Grookes, sounded an
occasional note of dissent, but, gen-
erally speaking, time-tethered
science was unchallenged in its best-
of - all - possible, three - dimensional
worlds. In this kind of a climate,
prophecy was limited to the logical
inference of the weather forecaster
and the investment advisor; only
the racing fan with his "hunch"
could claim a relationship with the
Pythia and Pilate's wife.
Dr. Albert Einstein dropped a
bombshell into this smug three-di-
mensional world when he postu-
lated his space-time continuum,
with time as a fourth dimension.
Space and time, he held, were but
opposite sides of a coin.
Everybody had a lot of fun with
long-haired old Dr. Einstein and his
Theory of Relativity. Limericks like
this one were greatly appreciated:
There was a young girl named
Who could travel much faster
She departed one day
In an Einsteinian way.
And came back on the previous
But the scientists did not laugh.
They accepted the space-time con-
tinuum. And they saw its implica-
tion — that an amazing new frontier
for scientific experiment had been
opened. As men had pioneered in
space, so now, theoretically, they
might pioneer in time.
The branch of science which is
concerning itself with the breaching
of the time barrier is that sub-divi-
sion of psychology- known as para-
psychology — that is, a psychology
that deals with phenomena that are
beyond normality. At Duke Uni-
versity Dr. J. C. Rhine and his col-
leagues in the Laboratory of Para-
psychology are experimenting daily
with the power of the mind to re-
member the past and predict the
future. Similar experimentation is
BREAKING THE TIME BARRIER
carried on at the City College of
New York and at the universities
of Utrecht, Bonn, Groningen, and
The firht experiments in precog-
nition (the ability of the mind to
break the time-barrier and predict
or "see" future events) and retro-
cognition (the ability to "see*'
events of the distant past) were car-
ried out at Duke University with a
special set of cards called "ESP"
( Extra-Sensory Perception ) cards.
The subject of the experiment tried
to predict the order of the deck as
it would he after it was shuffled.
The results obtained showed mathe-
matical odds of 400,000 to 1 against
chance being responsible for the
correct predictions made by the
subjects. Other tests with cards,
marbles, dice and matching pic-
tures all bore out the original re-
sults. The idea that there is a power
of the mind which can /jrcvision,
which is not limited by time, was
healthily substantiated. These sim-
ple experiments are gradually be-
coming more complex, but the re-
sults continue to indicate that the
actual breaching of the time barrier
by some function of the human
mind is not at all impossible.
Based as they are on the science
of mathematics, the tests make dull
reading. But the conclusion is in-
escapable and startling — time is
not an Absolute ; it is a barrier that
can be breached, and science has
already started down the long road
toward that end.
What does it mean? Will H. G.
Well's time-machine become a real-
ity? Will the vacationer of the 21st
century have his choice of two
weeks in modern Paris or two weeks
in the Paris of Marie Antoinette?
Will the student of history not only
read about the Battle of Hastings
but, if he is so inclined, buy a
ticket to it and go back in time
to see it? Will man know the future
— so that there will be no hidden
knowledge, no war, no disaster, no
The men who are pioneering on
this eerie time-frontier are dedi-
cated, able scientists. And in draw-
ing on their experiments for ma-
terial, the science-fiction writer is
as near to fact as Tennyson was
with his "airy navies" or Jules
Verne with his submarine.
The day is not too far off when we'll be in radio contact with Jupiter
and Saturn, when weather will be controlled by radio, and when
each person will have a portable sending and receiving set that will
enable him to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world.
— David Sarnoff
When Thomas Edison was once asked how many separate investiga-
tions he had under way in West Orange, he answered, "I have
enough ideas to keep the laboratories busy for years and 'break' the
Bank of England."
Mjly is Yljm's love life. She is her sisters, her
mothers, herselves and her ancestors. But poor
old Yljm can never be a mother or a sister — just
By RUSS WINTERBOTHAM
Illustrated by Kelly Freas
^yr SEEMS xinnecessary to say
/ that my story began a long time
ago, but I do not intend to be
subtle. I am not clever and my ly-
ing is unpolished, almost amateur-
ish. So I certainly could not be
subtle, wliich requires both clever-
ness and an ability to tell the truth
and a lie in the same breath.
Let us turn back the clock a few
ages. I was lying in the sun think-
ing of love. I understand that you
human beings have an aversion to
biological discussion, so I will not
go into detail. But I must remind
you that my love-life is quite dif-
ferent from yours, for I am from
another planet. At the time under
discussion, I was most deeply in
My heart's desire had no diape,
the lovely creature. She had no in-
telligence, the divine soul. But she
was the greatest bit of protoplasm
in any galaxy you could name. By
our standards, I probably might be
called handsome. I was young and
healthy. I had all of my genes and
chromosomes. My color was the
dirty green that is associated with
The sun warmed my body and
the tidal undulation of my planet's
surface rocked me gently. And
then she came into my life. She
floated gently in the breeze, her
dainty figure held aloft by a mere
hint of levitation. Sparks of static
electricity shot from her tender cilia
so brightly that I was forced to ex-
ude a layer of protective fibre to
protect my visory buds. She sucked
a deep breath of cyanic gas into her
pulmonary pouch and spoke to me
sweetly with a voice like distant
"My dear Yljm, the world is
coming to an end."
I could not believe her, for she
had no intelligence. She only loved
to talk. "Perhaps," I said, "but not
"Very soon, then," said she. Her
name was Mjly.
I watched her with patronizing
amusement. The static electricity
showed that she was nervous and
upset, but people often get nerv-
ous and upset over trivial matters.
"Now how," I reasoned, "could our
world come to an end? The other
planet has gone on for thousands
of years without colliding with us.
We circle it, in fact."
"No," Mjly said, "that is not our
doom. Actually our world will not
cease to exist. Life will end here,
that is all."
"Ah," I said. "Our atmosphere
is escaping into space." I sucked air,
viciously. True, the air was thin.
True, the atmosphere was escaping.
But there would be breathable
amounts for many thousands of
centuries yet to come.
"Not the air. The food is all
gone. Things we eat have ceased to
I levitated myself and looked out
over the throbbing land. A few
years ago, this land had been cov-
ered with vegetation. I had come
to take vegetation so much for
granted that I'd ceased to notice it.
Now it was gone. There were no
round fruits growing from tender
grasses, no tubers dangling from
the fungus trees, no legume vines
sprawling over the rocks. Every-
where lay desert, barren dunes
shaking their crests with tidal mo-
I lowered myself to the ground
and dug my big fibrousities into
the sod. No green leaves grew
there beneath the surface. The soil
was dead. "This will seriously inter-
fere with our future, Mjly," I said.
"We might eat each other," she
replied, "but then there would be
no one left."
"No one? There are many
"The others are dying," said
Mjly, blinking her otic nerves
eerily. "We soon will be the only
It was indeed a senseless thing to
do, to die just because there was no
means of going on living- But I
must admit tliat I was tempted for
a moment. But I hung onto my-
self, for there was Mjly, and as long
as ^e lived, there was a reason for
me to live too.
"It's not a cheerful prospect," I
said, "but I suppose death by star-
vation is the best way out. We will
face death as we have lived, cheer-
fully and fortuitously."
"And why should we die, when
there is another world so close?"
"Are you suggesting interplane-
tary flight, my dear?" I was amused
again, even though there was little
enough left to be amused at.
She crintled her sense of smell
in reply, and I realized I was not
being amused at the right time.
Anchoring herself by magnetic
processes, she began to weave the
atmosphere delicately with her
taste-bud tendrils. Quickly she hol-
lowed the air molecules into a re-
flective mirror, and brought it to
focus on our neighboring world. I
levitated myself into a position so
that I could look into the mirror.
The near planet was quite satis-
factory. It was the one you know as
the earth. It was young. It was
green. Huge fern-like plants grew
abundantly on its surface. It was
full of food. And near.
"The trip could be made by levi-
tation," Mjly said.
I hung back. "Animals might
live there. We'd be devoured."
"I am not afraid," she said.
"We might not get hungry for a
time. Let us linger here awhile.
Later when we get desperate, there
will be time enough for interplane-
tary flight." I hated the thought
of stuffing myself full of air enough
to last for the long trip.
Mjly lowered her visory buds. "I
am going to become a m.other/'
"Go then, and become a mother.
rU stay here till I get hungry and
then join you."
Mjly unflexed her sense of touch
and I felt sorry for her. "If I could
be sure," I said, "that no wild ani-
mals live on the earth, I'd go soon-
She snapped her sense of bal-
ance in happiness. "I will go first,"
said she. "If everything is pleasant
and safe, I will return and let you
I nodded my otic nerves and ofT
As you human beings are doubt-
less aware, space levitation is quite
complicated . but not beyond ac-
complishment. Once you are able
to reach the speed of escape the
rest is easy. But Mjly was young
and strong and soon she had disap-
peared from sight traveling at a
tremendous velocity. I followed her
as long as I could with the tele-
scope and then I lowered myself to
the tidal crest of a nearby sand
dune and lost myself in metaphysi-
Almost half a year later I real-
ized that Mjly had been gone long-
er than I expected. Either she had
been eaten by wild animals on the
earth, or she had forgotten me.
I was beginning to get lonesome
and in a few more months I would
get hungry. At the thought of en-
during two such excruciating pains
at a single time, I decided to risk
my life. I would travel through
epace to the earth and try to find
As you may have guessed, the
planet on which we had been living
is the one you now know as the
Moon, and the distance to the earth
is comparatively small. The sand-
dunes now have hardened and the
tidal sway of its surface can. be felt
only slightly. The moon no longer
turns on its axis and it has no sweet-
ly scented cyanide In its atmos-
phere. It has no atmosphere of any
sort. But it stands now as it did
when I left it, glorious in death.
Since I departed, no living thing
has trod its soil.
My scientific sense instinctively
came to the rescue as I approached
the earth. I felt a strong gravity
wrenching at my vitals and so in-
stead of trying reverse levitation, I
spread my processes so that the at-
mosphere caught in the folds of my
skin and I came floating gently
down to the ground without harm.
The earth was much as it had
appeared through the molecule
telescope. It was covered with green
vegetation, good, rich, nourishing
stuff. And there was enough to feed
Mjly and me for a million years.
There were no animals of any
sort. Again I went to my scientific
sense for the answer. I realized that
while vegetable life was far ad-
vanced, animal life had yet to ap-
pear. Mjly was the first of this type
of life ever to set foot on terres-
But where was she ? On the
moon, I could often locate her a
thousand miles away by a simple
radio call. Although the earth was
much larger than the moon, I did
not doubt that she was within a
thousand miles. So I generated
power and issued a call.
I waited for the response. It
came feebly to my antenna.
Using ray sense of direction, I
pushed through the vegetation in
search of her. I did not levitate,
because the feebleness of her call
indicated she might be hurt and on
the ground. Besides, levitation is
much more difficult on the earth
than on the moon.
The reply came stronger to my
next call and I sensed through
seven of my senses that she was
near. She was on the ground, prob-
ably injured, which explained why
she had not returned as she had
I came to a patch of wilderness,
a great marshy plain. In the middle
of this swamp was a crater, like
those caused by meteors, a deep,
ugly scar in the mud. I shuddered
at the thought that my darling Mjly
might have landed there. Her
weaker scientific sense might not
have given her the cue to use her
skin as a parachute and she might
have made the fatal mistake of try-
ing to reverse -levitate.
"Mjly!" I called, speaking aloud
now. "Mjly! Where are you?"
**Yljm! I am here!"
"Yes, the voice came from the
crater. Gliding to its rim, I looked
down. A pool of water lay on the
bottom. A greenish scum covered
the surface. The scum moved with
a million tiny wriggles.
"Yes, Yljm," came Mjly's voice.
*'It is I. But I am no longer one
being." And her voice sounded like
(Continued on page 94)
By E. G. von Wald
Illustrated hy Poul Orbon
Tensor's melancholia threatened to disturb the entire
citizenry, and that was most uncivil! So — if these pe-
culiar aliens caused him this distress, by provoking
his intellectual curiosity, the remedy was for him to
investigate them to his complete satisfaction. . . Thus,
in this manner, did Tensor get well — and did he
learn a bit too . . .
TENSOR gazed helplessly at the
fine mist sifting down from a
hazy, violet sky. "I told you I was
having these spells."
"But Great Oxy," the adminis-
trator sputtered, "can't you control
"I can't help It, Ruut," Tensor
replied. "I just feel sort of funny
and^and — "
Ruut's hyperimage was chewing
on its illusory lip. "Well, you've got
lo stop it. Do you understand?
There'll be a lot of lichens and
things growing all over the Prime's
beautiful landscapes if this keeps
The administrator's concern
amused Tensor and, as his mood
lightened, the drizzle abated and
the sky became clear again.
"I'm sorry," he apologized sin-
cerely. "But I just seem to be hav-
ing trouble lately. Ever since the
"Oh, come now, son," Ruut
chortled with assumed heartiness.
* 'That's elementary 5om,atics. Just
get a grip on yourself."
"Perhaps you've been working,
or exerting yourself in some other
foolish way. Maybe you're tired and
should take something."
The long, scrawny citizen gazed
disconsolately at the beautitful vio-
let sky. his face relaxed and soleful.
He sighed and murmured, "Frank-
ly, Ruut, I just don't seem to give
a damn anymore."
On the other side of the planet,
Ruut gulped convulsively. His eyes
bulged out with thoroughly un-
"Get out of consciousness im-
mediately," he ordered hoarsely.
"Take a nego shot, if necessary.
Take one anyway. We can't take
chances," The administrator's hy-
perimage, with calculated angry
expression, glared sternly into Ten-
sor's mind. "Did you understand
"Yes sir," Tensor murmured. A
vag^ue unpleasantness began stir-
ring in his stcHTiach as he contem-
plated Ruut's thought. The ad-
ministrator was absolutely right.
Civilization simply could not toler-
ate an unhappy, uncooperative citi-
zen. The general satisfaction of all
was so clearly the responsibility of
each individual, and one careless
man could ruin it for everybody.
Very much as he had been doing.
Obediently he nodded. Conceal-
ing his embarrassment at the arti-
ficiality of the act, he permitted the
hyperimage to watch while he ad-
ministered the chemical.
"Good." Ruut became calm at
once, now that he was certain he
could command the situation. "I'll
have the physician examine you be-
fore that wears ofT." He hesitated
and said even more mildly, "I hope
this is just a passing thing, Tensor.
You know rU do everything I can
for you, even teleportin^ to your
focus. But you're a weather sensi-
tive, and that's a pretty common
classification. And you know the
Tensor indicated lazy assent. As
the drug took hold, he slipped
soothingly into unconsciousness,
and the hyperimage fhckered and
vanished with his powers. His last
emotion was one of a vague relief
that he would not have to look at
the low caste face of an adminis-
trator for a while.
E. G. VON WALD
HE FLOATED in his focus, idly
and uninterestedly contemplat-
ing the deep violet far above. A
few minutes before, he had been
stirred to an elusive and incompre-
hensible wistfulness which had
been, in some way, connected with
the aliens. While waiting for the
physician, he pondered the brief
glimpse he had got of them before
the Council clamped down its
screen and privacy orders. Now, un-
der the emotionless pseudocon-
sciousncss of the nego, it seemed
strange that he could have been in-
terested in those futile and primi-
tive beings. Practically nothing was
known about them, because they
could not communicate.
Tensor studied the question brief-
ly. There was no answer available
in the paucity of information, so he
dismissed it without further interest.
Insufficient data. Therefore, insolu-
ble problem. Therefore, forget
He continued to stare at the sky,
unconsciously and vacantly wait-
He felt the itch. It was a slight
stimulation of his medulary region,
indicating somebody's desire to
communicate with him. That, how-
ever, was impossible at the moment.
The only faculties of significance
remaining in his neutral somatic
state were those which were abso-
lutely necessary for civilized life —
levitation to avoid being disturbed
by gravity, the focus for personal
privacy, the construction of food.
Communication was not one of
those, so the itch would ju^t have
to remain. Tensor contemplated an
eternity with the medulary itch
without the slightest concern.
FAIR AND WARMER
Abruptly the itch stopped and
Curl was there, looking cxliausted,
as was the polite fashion, since tele-
porting oneself was commonly re-
garded as tiring.
"You've taken nego," the physi-
cian murmured aloud, half accus-
"Yes sir," Tensor replied, using
similar sound patterns. *'Ruut or-
dered me to."
"What in Oxy for?"
"He did not like my attitude."
The physician considered the in-
formation, and while he did so,
Ruut popped into existence beside
him, a most uncivilized look of
worry on his face.
"How is he. Curl? What have
you found out?"
"No need for excitement, my
dear administrator," the physician
replied evenly, politely avoiding
comment on Ruut's crude, low
caste self control. "I just got here.
Thanks to your order to the young
nian to fill himself up with nego, he
was unable to let me project a
"But the situation was dangerous.
Did you examine him? Did he tell
you what he said to me?"
Curl glanced at him, and then
quickly sent probing thoughts at
Tensor's mind and body. After a
moment, he gave It up, shaking his
head. "The nego won't let him
communicate at all. I'll have to
order him to administer an anit-
dote to himself."
"No!" Ruut almost shouted. "It's
dangerous." He rapidly gave an
oral and somewhat horrified ac-
count of his earlier communication
"All right," the physician grudg-
ingly admitted. "I'll try to do it
superficially. But it's difficult. It's
av^ully hard to know what's going
on in his body from just looking
at it and listening to him talk."
He turned to Tensor. "How long
have you been having these — er,
"About six months."
"Are you having any other trou-
"No sir. It's just the simple
things, like the weather, that seem
to be affected."
"I see. Melancholia." Curl
frowned thoughtfully. "These
moods come unwillingly, is that it?
And they don't go away entirely
when you shift your endocrine
"I'm not so sure about that en-
docrine shift, sir," Tensor stated
"You mean — " Curl stopped in-
credulously. He shook his head as
he comprehended. "Great Iso
"What is it?" Ruut asked in a
"This is deeper than I thought,
Ruut. You did very well to put him
under nego. The man can't control
his endocrine system properly."
"Well do something,*' Ruut de-
manded. "Don't just float there."
"All I can do," Curl said, raising
his voice exactly one decibel to show
his irritation, "is give advice. Ob-
viously, in his condition, the man
can't follow it."
Ruut gazed unhappily at his
friend. He was in authority over
Tensor, and therefore far inferior
in native gifts. Now it seemed that
Tensror was regressing in some ob-
scure way to his own level, a tragic
E. G. VON WALD
and uncivilized iiituation.
"This has happened before,"
Curl admitted. "But I can't quite
remember when." He sighed re-
signedly. "I guess 'I'll have to tele-
port again. Somebody probably re-
He disappeared for a few minutes
and returned again, face beaming
despite the fatigue.
"Oh yes," he said cheerfully.
"Now I know."
Tensor stared at him with un-
"The man is dying," Curl ex-
plained with satisfaction.
"Dying?" Ruut murmured in-
credulously. "But that's impossible
unless the Council orders him to
destroy himself. Why— why that
would make him just like an ani-
"That's what it is," Curl in-
Ordinarily, Tensor would have
been somewhat interested to know
about this strange process that was
taking place within his body, but
the nego kept his mind dull and
unconcerned. He did not even
question for reasons.
Ruut, however, did, and the phy-
sician happily explained. "You just
have never been concerned with
these rare symptoms, my dear ad-
ministrator. You see, actually we
are animals in a sense. Wc don't
die like them, but if we are not in
a focus we could be killed through
some accidental injury. The princi-
pal difference between us and the
small animals that occasionally
cause Prime trouble with his land-
scaping is control. They have no
control over their endocrine sys-
tems. We have."
*'Of course," Ruut said. "I know
"Ah, but perhaps you don't know
that our race at one time had no
more control over our endocrine
systems than those tittle animals.
"There are a lot of ways to ac-
count for the change, and it makes
very fascinating discussion because
it's absolutely unimportant. How-
ever, under such conditions, a hu-
man being would automatically
reach a certain stable level of de-
velopment. But then, after an in-
credibly short time, the essential
chaos within its body due to lack
of endocrine control causes it to
deteriorate. Eventually it is no
longer capable of sustaining life
and it dies."
The physician moved his hands
in an awkward but eloquent ges-
ture. "And that's all there is to it."
"Oh," Ruut murmured in an
awed tone, not even comprehend-
ing the extent of the disease but
trying to accept the staggering idea
of natural death. "Can*t you do
anything for him?"
Curl turned his attention casually
back to the sick man again. "Possi-
bly. Dying, of course, is not a dis-
ease in itself, but merely a symptom
of one." He shook his head. "I cer-
tainly wish I could examine him
directly without getting involved in
a major social crisis."
"Oh, Prime would be furious,"
"No doubt. Well — he said that
this started six months ago. Now
what could have happened six
"The aliens," Ruut said flatly.
"That's what caused it."
"Oh, come now, Ruut,"' Curl
FAIR AND WARMER
said amusedly. "Don't be supersti-
tious. What connection could these
— these aliens possibly have?"
"Well, that's when the Council
clamped down on them. Something
funny about the way they did that,
"Not at all funny," Curl told
him in a superior tone of voice. "It
is simply that the aHens appeared
to be of a higher type of animal
class without communication. Sure-
ly you wouldn't want to have any-
thing to do with such contradictory
"Of course not. But Tensor got
sick right after he visited them."
"He went to visit them?" Curl
was pensive a moment, and his
eyes lighted up. "In that case, Ruut.
there may be some connection after
Ruut nodded without speaking.
"Tensor," Curl said thoughtfully,
"did you actually go to inspect the
"Just before the Council stopped
"Uh huh. Did you have a reac-
Tensor considered. He recalled
every detail of the fleeting impres-
.<iions that had been his during the
few brief moments of his presence
near the peculiar organisms. The
impresMOns were confused and
mingled with sensations of teleport
fatigue, but there was a definite
and strange sentiment involved
"Ye;:, sir," he said woodenly.
"There seems to have been a re-
"Ha!" The physician glanced
significantly at Ruut. "What kind
of a reaction. Tensor? And how
strong was it?"
"I do not recognize it, sir. But
it was stronger than the ordinary
Curl noatod over close to him,
peering intently up into the uncon-
scious man's eyes. "Tell me the
Tensor thought a moment and
replied, "Chaotic In one sense. Spe-
cific in another."
"Speculative?" Curl's eyes were
eager with interest.
"Yes sir. I believe that would de-
fine it best. It was a sort of wild
and ungovernable desire to specu-
late on the origin of the aliens. A
very singular experience," he
"I knew it!" Curl almost shouted.
Then he quickly glanced about and
composed himself stiffly. That was
an embarrassing thing to do. In
front of an administrator, too.
"Very well," he said. "That con-
firms my diagnosis. I shall report it
to the Council and let them decide
what to do."
"What is it?" Ruut asked.
"A very strange disease. Rare,
too. I haven't had a case of it for
centuries." He paused and shook
his head. "Too bad. I don't recall
a single recovery from it once it
got a good start."
"It is — contagious?" Ruut asked
"Oh, not for you," Curl smiled.
"It's called intellectual curiosity,
and it requires somewhat more
brain power than you have."
"Thank Oxy for that," Ruut
breathed fervently. His eyes went
back to the recumbent form of the
E. G. VON WALD
"Yes. The Council will dearly
love this," Curl said with satisfac-
tion. "Most unusual. He'll have to
be destroyed, of course."
"But can't you do anything for
"Not likely. You see, it's the only
appetite of which we are capable
that can't be controlled by shifting
endocrine balance. Ordinarily, our
civilized manner of living prevents
it from being aroused— that's the
advantage of bein? civilized. Be-
cause, once the appetite shows up,
it simply must be satisfied, or it's
apt to do ail sorts of poisonous
things to you, as you can see. The
trouble is, satisfying curiosity gen-
erally involves at least some work,
and what civilized man is going to
get himself involved with anything
"Insidious," Ruut whispered.
Curl turned away, but then hesi-
tated and glanced back. "Still, since
it concerns the aliens — " He
frowned pensively. "There is a
scheme we've never tried before
that would probably cure him. I
remember somebody mentioned it
about eight hundred years ago, and
we decided to try it out on the next
case. Never did, though. Nobody
was interested. It's sort of uncivi-
lized, but I'll bring it up and see
what the Council thinks."
He nodded shortly, and evacu-
ated to his own focus.
"Well, my boy," Ruut said to
Tensor. "I'm going to miss you."
"There is no need to concern
yourself over me, sir," Tensor re-
plied unemotionally. "It does not
bother me in the slightest."
Ruut knew that to be the truth,
but it made him feel sad to think
of such a highly civilized man as
Tensor falling to a level that was
even below an administrator.
Abruptly, he caught himself and
readjusted the endocrine balance in
his own body to compensate for the
character of his thought, and the
moody spell passed.
He left, and Tensor continued to
stare unconsciously at the brilliant,
deep violet of the sky, noting with-
out appreciation the jewel-like
points of light that were the stars.
THE NEGO had to be recom-
posed twice in his body before
Curl returned, his long, unkempt,
black beard floating gently around
"Tensor," he said gravely, "the
Council has acted. It has been de-
cided not to order you to destroy
yourself immediately, because I
managed to convince them that
it would be interesting to try that
old scheme I told you about. I
hope you don't mind."
Naturally there was no reply
from Tensor. In his emotionless
state, he did not care oneway or
the other. He waited.
"At any rate," the physician con-
tinued, "what they did was order
you to satisfy this curiosity that is
causing all your trouble.
"The reason, of course, isn't that
the Council is interested in your
cure. But they do desire some co-
herent information about the aliens.
And since it is unlikely that anyone
will ever volunteer to take the trou-
ble to investigate them on their
own initiative, they felt your illness
a satisfactory excuse for requiring
FAIR AND WARMER
you to make the investigation."
Curl sighed. It was monotonous,
this trying to carry on a conversa-
tion with an unconscious man.
However, it was his duty as a phy-
sician, and he had promised the
Council. One thing he was sure of,
though, and tliat was never again
to get involved in teleporting him-
self ahout the planet like this on
any account. He would send an as-
sistant. Provided he could find one.
"The Council would like a report
when you get back. Do you think
you can control yourself if you
know that you are going to in-
vestigate the aliens whether you Hke
it or not?"
"I guess so, sir," Tensor replied
"Splendid. I'll return to my own
focus and give you the privacy for
administering the antidote."
Tensor waited. When the physi-
cian was gone, he constructed the
chemical in the vein of his left
wrist, and in less than a minute he
felt the surging pleasure of his re-
awakened faculties. He glanced
doubtfully at the sky, but it re-
Curl's hypcrimagc began forming
in his mind. "Everything all right
now?" the physician inquired
"Perfect," repUcd Tensor con-
tentedly. "This won't be so bad,
even if it is useful work. Maybe I'm
just a little peculiar."
"Ha, ha," Curl replied noncom-
"Oh, one thing further. What
about the privacy screen set up
around the aliens?"
"That was dropped months ago,"
Curl laughed. "Can you imagine
the Council sustaining anything like
that for long?"
"It doesn't require any effort."
"Yes, but it looks like it ought
to. and you know how that affects a
civilized man. You can go any time
Tensor nodded and withdrew.
ABRUPTLY, he was hovering
over the delightful grecn-and-
orange-streakcd sands oi" the cen-
tral landscape. This was one of
Prime's favorites, and the network
of drainage channels was the most
effective on the planet. Tensor ap-
proved. It really was beautiful.
He gazed around, pleasurably
appreciating the esthetic beauty of
the colorful, arid scene.
Then he saw the aliens. Tiiat was
astonishing, he thought. The aliens
were known to have grouped on the
other side of the planet, and he had
intended to do some sightseeing on
the way around. Now two of them
were here. Most unpredictable.
They were standing near the ho-
rizon, apparently examining one of
Tensor moved toward them .slow-
ly, sending futile probes for their
minds and finding, as before, noth-
ing but chaotic splashes. It was
really unfortunate that they could
He moved higher as he ap-
proached, for the better view it af-
forded. The aliens were animal, all
right. A species similar to human
beings but grotesquely primitive.
He observed that the creatures had
noticed him and were running mad-
ly across the surface toward a
E. G. VON WALD
small, shiny structure.
The structure interested him. It
looked very much as if it had been,
fabricated. He wondered how the
savages could construct without be-
ing able to control, and watched
them as they actually entered the
And then, incredibly, it rose from
the ferrous sands and dashed off
toward the cast, a faint, disgusting-
ly moist vapor trailing out behind
Quickly Tensor moved up par-
allel to it, while he speculated on
what it meant. Apparently the sav-
ages were in full control of it. For
a moment he thought it might be
an alien focus, but dismissed the
idea. If it were a focus, there would
be no purpose in moving it spati-
Feeling more curious, he pro-
jected himself inside and was im-
mediately delighted, despite its
obvious mechanical character. It
was metallic and smooth and there
were numerous incomprehensible
devices piled up again the walls of
the tiny, circular room. Seated at a
panel, their backs toward him, the
two creatures were busily manipu-
lating httle spots of brilliant color,
and one was creating a wierd but
soft cacaphony with its mouth.
Tensor was amused as well as
interested. He listened, and man-
aged to decipher a pattern to the
speech, even though only confused
scatterings of intelligence came
from the chaotic minds. He again
observed the astonishing similarity
of appearance between the aliens
and human beings.
From a small orifice in the panel,
a reply issued; cold and rasping in
"Control to Scout Three. Roger
on the presumed alien. Lieutenant.
I knew that civilian with you would
get you into trouble."
"Well, it wasn't exactly the fault
"Enough. Bear away from the
base until certain you are not being
While one of them played with
the moving color spots on the panel,
the other twisted a knob, and all
segments of the outside became
successively visible in a viewer.
"Scout Three to Control. Noth-
ing in sight."
"Very well. The orders are to stay
there until dark, after which you
"But that's two hundred hours
away," the other savage hissed. "We
don't have enough oxygen."
"You'll just have to work it out
somehow," the panel replied coldly.
'*We can't endanget the whole mili-
tary base for one useless civilian
This was a fascinating exchange
to Tensor, as he puzzled out the
curious relationships and their pur-
poses. He floated near the ceiling,
listening, face set in civiliaed im-
One of the creatures grumbled,
leaned back and swung around in
its chair. It jerked erect when it
saw the man at the ceiling.
Tensor smiled at the poor, dumb
creature and was rewarded by a
disgustingly loud noise from its
mouth and a mad rush back to the
panel. The other had seen him, too,
and was staring wide-eyed at him.
Tensor moved closer to observe,
but the one who had seen him first
FAIR AND WARMER
continued shouting shrill, ear-split-
ting noises at its companion, who
seemed to be trying unsuccessfully
to obey. Petulantly, Tensor disin-
tegrated the noisy one and also
some ugly cables that led from the
panel to the wall. That improved
the esthetic situation immeasurably,
There was a quick sucking of
breath from the remaining savage
as it looked wildly about for a
moment, as if searching for its van-
ished companion, and then stared
at the place where the cables had
"Well — " It made a hopeless ges-
ture with its shoulders and slumped
back into its chair. "That does it.
No pilot. No radio. Damn. Even the
Leader would have trouble with
this situation." It looked uneasily
at Tensor, and remained perfectly,
"What do you call yourselves?"
Tensor asked without difficulty,
using sound patterns similar to what
they had employed.
"You speak English!" the crea-
ture blurted out in amazement, and
Tensor felt rather Irritated by its
crude facial expression. He made a
small adjustment, however, bring-
ing his own somatic state into a
closer harmony with that of the
creature, and the desired level of
contented appreciation rose.
"Are — are you a native?" it
"Yes," Tensor replied.
It gazed at him with half closed,
calculating eyes, starting at the
head, running slowly to his feet and
"You look human." it muttered.
"Naturally," Tensor replied
cheerfully. The appreciation was
growing subtly now, and he found
that the creature's mouth interested
him. It was a strikingly lovely shade
of red — always Tensor's favorite
color. And although there was a
heavy and awkward sheath of arti-
ficial fabric about the alien, he ob-
served with a rising fascination that
the bulging of the thoracic sheath-
ing indicated that it was female.
Tensor became uncomfortably
aware that he had better be careful
of his induced somatic sympathy.
After a moment of speculative si-
lence, he said, "You haven't told
me what you savages consider your-
"Don't call me a savage, you
naked beast," she snapped back.
"I beg your pardon" he mur-
mured politely. "Merely a semantic
difficulty, I'm sure. I assume that
you consider yourselves human be-
ings, then. Where do you come
"Earth — the third planet."
"I see. And you used mechanical
devices such as this Uttle metal egg
to get here. Most curious." Tensor
contemplated the thought with
great interest, for obviously they
used mechanical skill to compen-
sate for lack of direct control. An
exceedingly poor substitute, of
course; but it explained everything
he wanted to know.
"Are there many of you natives?"
she asked him cautiously.
"Not like there used to be," Ten-
sor admitted. "But still quite a few
— though not so many we get on
each other's nerves."
"How many in round numbers?"
That was a silly question, Tensor
thought. Nevertheless he told her.
E. G. VON WALD
"Oh, I suppose about thirty or a
hundred. We haven't counted for
centuries. Nobody's interested."
She appeared to be deeply ab-
sorbed in thought, gazing at him
in an almost detached fashion.
Finally she said, "Vo\ir civilization
is based on the mind, isn't it? You
do things with an act of will instead
of with your hands."
"Naturally. That is the essential
mark of civilization. At least," he
added politely, "from our point of
"Only with other telepaths,*' he
"Then how did you leam my
"Oh, after you talk it a bit, I
can see certain relationships. But
the mental pictures are so discon-
tinuous and nonspecific that it takes
a little time before the pattern
"That means you don't actually
know what I am thinking?"
"Correct. You have the potential,
but you don't have the control
necessary to permit it."
A small, satisfied smile curved
about her lips.
Tensor found it oddly disconcert-
ing. Despite the ugly sheathing,
there was something about her that
was quite pleasant.
He began to feel that she was
even beautiful, and a'* he disinte-
grated the sheath in order to ap-
preciate her better, he realized that
that it was undoubtedly the strange
endocrine balance he had created
in himself that was responsible for
the attitude. Because there was
nothing particularly well-designed
about her. She looked unprepos-
sessingly like a civilized woman, ex-
cept a good deal fatter in places,
which hardly helped matters from
an abstract point of view.
Tensor could only assume that
his point of view was becoming less
He observed that, upon his dis-
integrating the sheath, the noise
was there again, issuing rapidly
from her mouth, and lacking in de-
tailed semantic significance. It was
very curious, he thought, watching
the rapid rise and fall of her pink-
tipped breasts. He could not deter-
mine whether the signal indicated
terror or fury.
She solved the problem for him
by grasping a small metal object
from the rack beside her and throw-
ing at him. He deflected it to the
floor as it left her hand.
"What," he asked politely, "is
disturbing you so?" He liked the
angry sparkle of her eyes.
"You," she snapped. "Keep away
from me.'* *
"I don't understand," he replied,
moving closer and reaching out his
hand to obtain a tactile sensation
of her lovely hair texture. The
woman compressed her red lips
firmly and stood there, uneasily
watching him out of the corner of
■ her eyes as he gently stroked her
"Do all females of your race look
nice like you?"
She nodded cautiously and said,
"More or less."
A sly expression came to her eyes
then and she smiled radiantly.
"Look," she said, "would you do
me a favor?"
"Of course," Tensor murmured
FAIR AND WARMER
with unaccustomed eagerness. This
was a very interesting experience,
even though he was constantly hav-
ing to reinforce and add to the
chemical shift in his body in order
to hold down the possibility of fa-
tigue. He could not recall ever be-
fore permitting .such an unusual
She gestured guilelessly toward
the panel. "Would you help me
repair my radio?"
"Radio?" Tensor echoed vacant-
ly, gazing at the place indicated.
"Yes. I — er, have to report to my
superiors that I may not be able to
return, even tonight." Again she
smiled dazzlingly and with devas-
tating efTcct on Tensor.
"I'd be glad to," he said agree-
ably. "But I don't know anything
about mechanical things. Couldn't
you just tell me where your su-
periors are and let me teleport
there? Pd let them know and come
*'Oh no," she replied quickly. She
frowned a little wistfully. "No," she
repeated, "they wouldn't like that.
They never like anything easy. And
besides — " again the smile " — I
might not he here when you return,
"Oh?" Tensor said, puzzled that
she knew that he might be con-
cerned over her absence. Possibly
she had some power of direct com-
munication after all.
"It's just those cables that you
destroyed over the panel," she told
him in a softly cajoling voice. "I
have some spares in the locker, and
if you would help me replace them,
it would be fine."
Tensor floated over and peered
into the stumps, examining the
composition and structure. He
nodded and reconstructed them in-
She was obviously delighted and
said, "I wondered if you could do
that. May I use the radio now?"
Tensor stared at the whiteness of
her teeth contrasting pleasingly
with the redness of her lips. "Go
right ahead." he murmured. He de-
cided he had better leave soon.
He watched as the brilliant spots
of color glowed and shifted. She
spoke and the panel issued its re-
sponse. "Control to Scout Three.
What happened there a while ago?'*
"This is urgent," she said. "Is the
After a noisy hesitation, the panel
replied. "This is Commander Car-
son. What's up out there?"
"Listen carefully," she said. "I
have an alien with me on the ship.
He's already learned English per-
fectly. He is only slightly telepathic,
so far as I am concerned, but he
has great tclckinctic powers."
"We were afraid of that. Is he
"Well — he killed Lieutenant An-
derson. Completely annihilated her
with a simple act of will." She
glanced at the bewildered expres-
sion on Tensor's face, and favored
him with a quick little smile. "He
is extremely powerful. He would
be a very good friend."
Tensor broke in asking, "What
is all this talk now? I do not under-
stand the purpose of it."
"Don't you worry," she mur-
mured softly, reaching up and pat-
ting him on the knee, "Just have
The panel rasped at them. "I
see. Do you know if there are many
E. G. VON WALb
"He told me it was between thirty
and a hundred, but nobody knows
for sure. Presumably they don't
have very much "communication
with each other."
"Ah," rasped the panel in a satis-
fied tone. "Just a minute. I'll get
a directive from the Captain for
Tensor nodded slightly as he said,
"Oh, I see. That is your Council
you are talking to."
"Uh huh," she replied, dodging
the hand that sought her hair again.
She smiled coyly. "Now just wait.
I want to hear what my superiors
say." She pushed at him playfully,
her smile growing strained as she
desperately tried to kill time.
Tensor was amused. Yes, he de-
cided, it was time to go. He was not
at all sure that he wanted to go,
but he felt that it was wise. He
had never in his life engaged in
such lengthy and violent exercise
and was alarmed at the thought
of the fatigue pains he would have
when he restored his balance to a
civilized neutral again.
The panel rasped noisily at them.
"Captain Jonas," it said, speak-
ing in a different accent this time.
"There's a war going on and we
can't ake any chances on how the
aliens will feel about it. We have a
fix on you and I'm sending a flight
of homing missies. Nuclear wax-
She stiffened as she heard the
sentence, her red lips drawn back
from tightly clenched teeth. In a
faint voice, she said, "I — I guess
there isn't much I can do about it,
"Can you keep him there and
busy so that he won't notice the
She gave a short, brittle laugh.
"Yes sir. I feel fairly sure I can
keep him interested for — *' she
glanced speculatively at Tensor " —
a half hour at least. Probably much
"It'll only be fifteen minutes,"
the panel rasped. "We'll deal with
the others as we find them. You
will be decorated for this service,
even though you are only a civilian.
Posthumously, of course."
The panel was silent.
"Oh sure," she said in a deadly
quiet voice. "I'm glad to be ap-
Tensor was puzzled. The con-
versation did not appear to make a
great deal of sense to him. He hov-
ered over^the panel and gazed at it
"Just another superior," she told
him. "It seems that practicaUy
everybody is my superior — or was."
She sighed and looked down at her-
self, wistfully thinking that it was a
shame to have to waste all the care-
fully nurtured loveliness that she
knew she was.
She looked up at Tensor, who
had lost interest in the panel and
was busily examining the outside in
"Come here, big boy»'* she said
quickly. When he turned to face
her, she added, "keep your atten-
tion over here."
With an agreeable smile, he
floated to her and, in obedience to
her directions, lifted her into his
arms. She put her lips to his, her
hands gently caressing his cheek.
It was a shock. Tensor let out his
pent-up breath explosively and ran
FAIR AND WARMER
his tongue over his lips, tasting the
mixture of saliva and lipstick. What
should have been moderately repul-
sive to him had been transformed
by the chemical sympathy in his
veins into something quite over-
whelming. His eyes were bright
"It's a dirty trick and I feel like
a jerk," she whispered sadly to him.
"But what else can I do?"
"I beg your pardon?" Tensor
murmured happily. "I do not un-
"Oh well," she breathed softly,
smiling a crooked little smile.
"Neither one of us will ever know
when it happens. A pity to spoil it
so soon, though."
In his unaccustomed confusion.
Tensor could not follow her
thought, but he could grasp the im-
mediate situation. He grinned and
nuzzled her afTectionately, and de-
cided to stay a while longer.
CURL was floating langorously In
his comfortable focus, eyes half
closed and glazed, mouth drooling-
ly limp and hands carelessly askew.
He formed his hypcrimagc to ap-
pear erect and neat — and with a
politely interested expression —
while he idly contemplated the tele-
pathic picture being projected into
his own mind.
"I see you've recovered,'* he
"Yes, but what an ordeal," Ten-
sor replied. His image took on the
appearance of a relieved smile. "If
it ever happens again — I don't
"It was that bad?" Curl showed
suitable lazy civilized sympathy. "I
was afraid. All that tcleporting of
yourself and things."
"It took me almost ten minutes
to recover from it," Tensor said
"Tsk tsk. That's a lot of lactic
acid to locate and destroy. But the
Council will appreciate it, even If
Prime did complain, poor fellow."
"Well, I promised to investigate
and I'm a man of my thought. Of
course, the curiosity vanished as
soon as I got into actual communi-
cation with one of them."
"They communicate?" Curl per-
mitted his Image to appear mildly
astonished, which was the only civi-
lized thing to do. "Tell me about
"It's crude, but in some things
successful," Tensor explained. "The
alien I contacted was a female, for
instance. When I adjusted for rela-
tive somatic sympathy so that I
could stand the poor, uncivilized
creature, I naturally acquired the
full appetites of a male animal and
this female seemed to understand
some of my thoughts very well.
"You simply can't imagine the
violent somatic compulsions one en-
counters under such a balance."
"Horrible," agreed Curl. "But I
understand, my boy. I once fa-
thered a child — mu.st have been at
least a couple of thousand years
ago. Purely out of scientific inter-
est, of course, and never again."
The physician paused and added,
"Matter of fact, It's quite likely
that you're that child. Can't ever
tell about these things, you know."
Tensor nodded in polite agree-
ment and continued with his own
story. '*It wasn't at all bad while it
was going on, because I was pretty
E. G. VON WALD
well anesthetized from body chem-
icals. But the hangover was ter-
"Yes, no doubt." Curl appeared
to consider a monTcnt before iisk-
ing. "What about this uncivilized
hubbub the Prime raised that
caused the council to order him to
"Oh, that. Well, just as I was
about to leave, this primitive I v/as
with coaxed me into playing an in-
teresting but remarkably violent
sport with her. And about the same
time, it appears that her superiors,
for .loinc unknown reason, decided
to destroy her. It seems that the
aliens' Council doesn't let them
take care of it themselves."
"Uh, huh. How did they accom-
"They used some nuclear break-
down devices, which I imagine
serve their primitive society quite
well. The devices have appetites
built into them for a certain kind
of target so they will know where
"But when I agreed to play this
game, I naturally set up a privacy
ifocus, so the ship we were in just
didn't exist for the nuclear devices.
They kept on looking, though, and
finally found a lot of similar ships
back at the alien's main camp.
Made an awful mess out of one of
the Prime's favorite landscapes, I
"Well," Curl replied engagingly,
"Prime should have had better self-
control. I don't blame the Council
a bit, and it docs fix things up
rather nicely." His image smiled
into Tensor's mind and then hesi-
tated as he saw the concern there.
"Uh, yes. AH except for the alien
female ^hat insists on staying with
me, now, since none of her people
is left on the planet. I told her two
or three times to go ahead and de-
stroy herself if she wanted; but she
just rumples up my hair, grins at
mc and says she already has." He
looked worriedly at Curl.
"Well, that's just one of those
things, I gTiCss," Curl murmured
philosoph ically. Sen^iing a local
distraction approaching Tensor at
that moment, he politely with-
drew from the other man's mind.
• ■ • THE END
a million tiny chirps joined together.
"I landed with such force that I
came apart. Now each of my body
cells lives a life of its own. And now
and then each cell grows fat and
becomes two. I am my sisters, I . . /'
Let's not be subtle about it. Mjly
was a microbe, the beginning of
animal life on the earth. She lives
today, she is and always will be her
sisters, her mothers, hersclve.-; and
(Continued from page 78)
her ancestors. But there arc few
ancestors, for microbes do not die-^
just part of themselves die.
And I do not die. For I crept
away into a hole in the ground,
where I will live forever. I do not
starve, for roots reach me here. But
I miss my iove life with Mjly. I can
never be a mother or a sister. I will
always be me, a lonesome old bem.
• • • THE END
The body tanks had to be re-
plenished and the ship had to
be serviced — and the crew was
having a Lotus dream in its
bed of protoplasm. But Kelly
knew how to arouse them . . .
By Kenneth O'Hara
Illustrated by Paul Orbon
THE CREW pulsed -with con-
tentment and its communal
singing brought a pleasant kind of
glow that throbbed gently in the
" 'Has anybody here seen Kelly
. . . K-E-double-L-Y?' "
"Shut up and dig my thought!"
Kelly's stubborn will insisted. "I'm
going on out for a while!"
The delicate loom of the Crew's
light pattern increased its frequency
a little and the song stopped. "Bet-
ter not," the Crew said.
"But why not?"
"We couid be running into some-
thing bad," Kelly thought.
"No danger now, Kelly. Check-
ing the ship is just a waste of time."
"How can you waste what you
have so damn much of?" Kelly
"Do not leave us again, Kelly.
We love you and you are the most
interesting part of the Crew when
you're with it."
"The ship ought to be checked.
Our bodies ought to be looked at."
"We know there is no danger
any more, Kelly. Do not go. There
are so many interesting experiences
we have not even begun to share
yet. We are only half way through
your life and we have not even
started to experience your impres-
sions of your colorful and complex
Earth culture. And we have not
even started on the adult lives of
Lakrit or Lljub. Come back with
your Grew, Kelly."
"But no one's checked the ship
for over a year!"
"Please do not worry about the
ship, Kelly. In fifty years nothing
has gone wrong. We can trust the
ship thoroughly now, it will take
care of us."
"It will take care of usf That's
a helluva way to look at it!"
"There can be no danger now,
Kelly. In fifty years we have en-
countered every conceivable dan-
ger, every imaginable kind of world
or possible menace."
"Have we?" Kelly thought.
*'Every danger from outside maybe,
and I'm not even sure of that. But
how about danger from inside?"
"Us. How about apathy for in-
stance. Apathy's a real danger. You
talk about this space-can like it was
a big metal mother! Listen, I'm
supposed to see that this tub holds
together. At least until we get back
somewhere near enough to the
Solar system so we'll feel we've
been somewhere else!"
"I'm getting out for a while, I
"Al! right," the Crew sighed. The
light loom faded a bit, down to a
self-indulgent glow. "Hurry back to
"I'll give some thought to it."
So Kelly concentrated on the in-
creasingly painful and difficult task
of tearing his consciousness free of
the big glob of protoplasm in the
tank, and getting it back into hi.s
body that hibernated in the bunk-
As usual the switch was too pain-
ful. It stretched and stretched and
finally snapped in an all too famili-
ar explosion of shocking light.
HIS BONES creaked. His skin
rustled as he sat up and
looked around. There was die old
feeling that there was dust over
everything when there was no dust.
There was all that emptiness sweep-
ing away into the endless silence
and be thought again, as he always
did, how comforting and cozy it
was being a part of the Crew.
But someone had to check the
ship. It was only machinery after
all. and machinery could wear out,
sooner or later. And he wasn't at
all sure, as he kept insisting, that
they had encountered all the possi-
HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLY?
It might seem that in fifty years
you could run into everything. But
fifty years was no time at all out
here where time had no real mean-
ing any more.
His body squeaked as he took a
few tentative steps about the bunk-
room. One did not actually forget
how to walk. It was just awkwai-d
as thn devil. And the blood, the en-
tire autonomic system, tended to
.slow down. It seemed reluctant to
step up general metabolism.
Apathy. Sure it was a danger.
This time, Kelly decided, I'll do
Romcthing about it. He was the en-
gineer and he had signed on the
great odysscy to keep the ship go-
ing. But the Grew was part of the
ship. Was not there an obligation
even greater to keep the Crew go-
The four others lived but almost
imperceptibly in some very low
state of slowed metabolism there in
the bunkroom and Kelly looked at
them. The faithful and the wonder-
ful ones. The ones with whom he
had shared .so many dangers and
awful silences that the five of them
had been able to evolve the idea of
the protoplasm in the tank and
merge their consciousness in it.
Kew, the Venusian. in her bowl
of self-renewing nitrate. Lakrit from
a Juptcrian satellite, a fluorine fel-
low of distinction inside a sphere of
gaseous sulphur. A ciystalline char-
acter with a sense of humor named
Lljub whose form gave off a paled
glint as it nourished itself on sili-
cates. And a highly intelligent but
humble six foot long sponge labeled
Urdaz stuck in a foundation of
chemical sediment at the bottom of
a tank of reprocessing salt water.
Each with their own special kind
of appendages and sensitivities,
each able to move his special closed-
system about through the ship by
means of clever types of mobility.
But basically, in outward form,
they were too alien to have much
in common. Only as intelligences,
as life forces, could they share a
common bed. And it had evolved
to that in fifty years. A bed of pro-
toplasm in a shock-absorbent tank.
Kelly looked at them warmly and
thought about how it had worked
out. The strange thing was that it
did have a lot of good things to
recommend it. Or had had them.
It had solved the problem of inti-
mate communication and driven
back the tides of loneliness. It had
lessened the dangers of mental and
physical illnesses in the material
bodies and assured a prolongation
of the life of each body, which was
important in itself, for this trip had
proven to be a lot, longer than
even tlie most pessimistic had an-
The Crew, pulsing in its tank,
Kelly thought oddly, is a new life
form. One that had evolved to meet
the exigencies of deep space which
had proven to be alien to any
adaptability common to any world
that rotated through it.
But maybe they were too damn
happy, Kelly thought. Too con-
tented. If they ran into a rea!
emergency now, the ship would be
finished. The Crew in the tank
was, itself, incapable of action of
any overt kind. It could not ma-
nipulate anything. It could only be
And the bodies here in the bunk-
room could not rally fast enough
to meet a sudden crisis.
And they had agreed that the
first law was — -survival.
But to survive this way might
well mean destrurtion in another.
So Kelly walked and thought
about it, and weighed the precari-
He slipped through the silent
ship and to the control room. He
peered into the viewscopc. Some
galaxy or other spun its giant pln-
whccl outward toward some destiny
of its own. The high noon of the
endlessness had heen unfamiliar for
years. He checked the ship's instru-
ments. The Crew in the big tank
simmered and throbbed in its intro-
spective blis.s, utterly oblivious to
Kelly saw the red dwarf a few
hundred million kilos away. Three
planets ^ound their familiar path
around it. The second in distance
had a breathable oxygen, accord-
ing to the scopes, but little else to
Kelly straightened up. He had no
idea when the plan had really
started forming, but now it was
formed. When Kelly made up his
mind to a thing, there was no other
course but to conclude it. He knew
what he had to do.
Somehow, even as part of the
Crew, some part of Kelly had been
able to keep that forming plan a
secret. Which was a lucky miracle,
for if the Crew had known hts in-
tentions it would certainly not have
let him out this time.
Even if you wanted out, Kelly
reasoned, the Crew would keep you
in. And maybe after long enough
you did not care to get out. But
once out, he wondered, could it
keep you out if it decided to black-
ball a man for one reason or an-
Like wrecking the ship?
IN THE CHROME strip abo^
the control panel. Kelly saw his
face grinning stiangely back at hifn,
a bearded, hollowed, paled face
with an unfamiliar glitter in the
eyes. Every time he had left the
Crew to enter and reactivate his
own body, that bodv had seemed a
little less familiar. This time it
seemed to be almost entirely sorrie-
He stared at the face in the
chrome, then whispered the hell
with that and he flipped the con-
trols over to manual. He sat down.
Behind him, the Crew whispered in
its tank, protoplasm developed in
the labs and quivering now with
some unified sensation that was
purely subjective and blissfully un-
concerned with what happened out-
"It*s sick," Kelly concluded, with
an emphatic clamp of his jaws.
"It's not right!"
True, sharing the intimate sensa-
tions of alien life forms like Kew,
the female Venusian. had been ex-
citing. Especially the sex experi-
ences which, in a flower of Kew's
type, was certainly something.
There were interesting things to
being a part of the Crew all right.
,But the main purpose, survival, had
been forgotten. Now bring the Crew
was an end in itself. Kelly could
imagine the Crew business going on
and on until finally e\'cn the ma-
terial bodies in the bunkroom^ would
HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLY?
be forgotten entirely and allowed to
rol away to dust about which the
Crew would no longer care.
And that was very bad. It should
not have worked out this way. But
it was not too late to do some-
thing, shake them out of the Lotus
He checked the scopes dgain.
Now the second planet revealed
plenty of breathable atmosphere
settled in the lower valleys. He
headed straight for it.
The Crew was soon gomg to get
one devil of a jolt!
He put the shi]) into a close orbit
around the planet. It seemed noth-
ing but a fearsome forest of oxy-
dized spikes rising in corrosive .si-
lence, with here and there a lean
slash of valley. There was no indi-
cation of life, no vegetation visible
or revealed by the scopes. One of
the valleys h;id a thin mouth of
water stretching down the length
of its face. Kelly set the speed and
the controls and ran for the bunk-
room and the shock-absorbant
cushions. He strapped himself in
It was done. As long as the thing
had gone so far, Kelly decided, the
truth should never be revealed be-
cause that would lessen the thera-
peutic value of his action. He would
wreck the ship. Not too badly. Not
so badly that all of the bodies, dis-
tinrl, separate individual bodies
again, couldn't put the ship back
together, as in the old days. And
tliat would keep them in their
bodies gladly for a while where they
belonged! Where the good Lord
had intended for them to stay.
They would not be rocked away
to apathy in a phony metal mother
womb, thinking the ship was going
to take care of them.'
The more Kelly thought about it,
the better he felt. He stretched in-
side the straps. He felt his slightly
atrophied muscles lu.xuriate over
the tissues and bones of liis big
Any body, no matter what its
shape, should he proud of itself.
That wa.s Kelly's belief, and this
thing that had happened seemed
somewhat blasphemous. Without
bodies and their complex sensory
recording apparatus, the rich con-
sciousness enjoyed by the Crew
could not exist, would never have
been created at all. The Crew was
living off the largesse of experience
built up by their bodies. The Crew
was just narcotized enough that it
did not realize that the body banks
had to be replenished.
Kelly yelled feebly. He fought,
he grappled with the threatening
blackout like a man fighting an in-
visible opponent on an endless
flight of staii"s.
The grinding rolling terror of the
sound, the ripping, twisting, tearing
scream of it cried on and on. KclJy
knew one thing then.
He had not figured it right. His
calculations were off. The ship had
hit too damn hard.
L\TER when he managed to get
the straps off and tried to move
he fell painfully onto the tilled
deck. One of his eyes felt sticky.
He rubbed at it and his hand was
smeared with blood.
He shuffled around in a stum-
bling circle. Minor damages could
have been repaired. But this — the
ship was peeled open in glaring
strips like a breakfast cannister. A
cold wind moaned through the ship
that was now nothing but a metal
sieve. A hazy light filtered clown
and ran off the metal like cold Hour
Kelly fell to his knees. "Kew " he
whispered. "Lljub, Urdaz — Lak-
rit . . ."
The Venusian flower lady was
sliced down the middle like a cab-
bage, and the nitrate bowl was
shattered and Kew was dead in a
pool of fading green blood.
Smashed into the bulkhead was
Lakrit's sulphuric bathtub, and his
atmosphere had already filtered
away with the wind to wherever it
was going. I.ljub's pale glow was
out for good, and his crystalline
heart was as opaque as a dead eye.
Only a few pieces of Urdaz's tank
were visible, and Urdaz himself had
already turned to a powdery food
that the wind ate slowly in long
"What — what in the name of
God have I done?" Kelly whis-
No ! He slammed at the bulk-
head until the warped metal gave
and he ran to the control room.
The Crew — the Crew —
He stared at the tank.
Through a jagged opening in the
ship's walls, the wind whined and
plucked at Kelly's red hair. The
wind was colder now. He kept on
looking at the tank. He reached out
and touched the big transparent
cui-ve of it and then jerked his hand
back with a whimper in his breath.
There was nothing in the tank.
nothing but a blob of slowly drying
slime. He pressed his nose to the
tank. "Grew — " he whispered.
There was no life in the slime.
When he pounded on the tank, the
stufiF collapsed in upon itself in
Kelly yelled. The cold wind
froze at bis Iceth. It sucked at his
breath and dried at the interior of
his mouth. He ran and climbed.
The jagged periphery of the open-
ing sliced at his flesh. But he did
not feel it, and he fell twenty feet,
without feeling that either, down
the side of the ship. He started
crawling over the hard naked belly
of the rock.
He got to his feet. He ran stum-
bling down an incline of shale worn
round and shiny by the wind that
had blown here just as it blew now,
and would blow for God alone
possibly knew how long. He fell
and rolled to the edge of the water.
He looked into it. He felt of it.
He jerked his hand away. The stuff
was icy. But it was worse than icy.
It was dead. It was dead water. It
was without any bottom, and with-
out any life in it anywhere. You
could tell by looking into it. The
wind moved over the top of it as
though the water were glass, and
the water was the color of a slightly
transparent naked blue steel.
There was no life here. Maybe
there had been once, who knew
when, who could guess how long
ago. But there was none now and
even the water had forgotten it.
Kelly cried out as he stood up.
"What have I done?" He raised
his arms at the hazy red sun lying
over the spires of towering stone
and metal like a bloated balloon
HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLY?
scraping precariously over rusty
spikes. "Godj what have I done?"
The cry echoed tinnily on the
rocks and fled on the wind.
Kelly ran for a long way, falling
and stumbling and getting up
again. Kelly had always had one
primary drive, and that was to keep
going, no matter what. So now he
tried to keep going.
But thprc was no life on this
planet. He had known that before.
Some strange kinds of intelligence
could tolerate some unpleasant
worlds. But nothing would live
Nothing could live here.
"That's your fate," Kelly thought.
He sat down and stared at the walls
of rock and metal all around. "Your
fate, Kelly. Your punishment, your
well deserved hell."
That was what it was. Retribu-
tion. And knowing that, he tried
not to care. He tried to be glad and
face what he deserved.
If that were not the answer, then
why had only Kelly been spared to
face emptiness and silence and no
life, all alone?
The irony of it was that he would
go on as long as possible keeping
himself alive in his own hell. There
was food aplenty in the ship,
enough to last as long as hell cared
to have him.
He turned and started walking
back toward the ship that seemed
some five miles away. At that in-
stant, the ship disappfared in an
abrupt explosion that twiscd the
rocks and a mushroom cloud flow-
ered gently above the lake as Kelly
fell trembling on his belly and
hugged the ground and pushed his
face into the shale while the wind
tore and screamed around him and
particles of flint ripped his clothes
and slashed at his flesh.
HE DID NOT bother walking
much farther toward where
the ship had been. There was only
a crater there now which would
offer him nothing in the way of sus-
taining his veiy personal and thor-
oughly private hell.
He walked. The effort became
more difficult and finally he was on
his hands and knees, crawling. The
wind sucked at his ripped clothes,
and felt like cold sharp steel in his
raw wounds. But slowly and delib-
erately he continued to crawl.
Kelly had always had the idea
that a man should keep going and
so now he kept on going. Even if
there was no place to go, and you
could not remember particularly
where you had been, you kept on
moving and fighting and slugging
along until you could no longer
He lay there looking up at the
hazy rust of the sky with the naked
spires pointing up into it for no
reason at all, because there was
nothing up there.
He had been there and he knew.
Nothing up there but space, black
and without a beginning or end. He
had not even checked the records
of the ship so that now, lying here,
he did not even know how far away
from Earth he was, At the speed
they had traveled, a ship went a
long way in fifty years. But the ship,
the records, everything was lost.
And no one would ever know
now how far they had come.
Or gone. What was the differ-
But Kelly had no difficulty in re-
membering zchy tiicy had come.
They had come into space be-
cause that was Iiovv it was with
those who fouj^ht their way up to
being the doni i na te life form of
whatever world they had lived on
and grown and died on. If you
were the kind who went into space,
you went because space was there.
Who needed a better reason than
"Kcw," he whispered. "Lakrit,
Lijub,Urda2, listen now — I thought
I was doing the right thing — maybe
my idea was right — but I just made
a mistake in the calculations. I just
made a helluva mistake — "
The wind sighed over the naked
rock and the rusted metal and the
rock and the dead blue water.
He turned and pushed his head
against the rock, and his body
curled up against the bitter wind.
^'You've got to forgive me," he
" 'Has anybody here seen Kelly?
He shivered and kept his eyes
closed. It was part of the wind. He
did not want to go out that way,
hearing crazy voices In the wind.
" 'Has anybody here seen
He raised his head and blinked
and the wind drove tears down his
"Am I just hearing something
that's going crazy inside my head?"
He peered around. There was noth-
ing, nothing anywhere of course,
nothing where nothing had ever
been, and nothing else but nothing
could ever be.
"You're wrong, Kelly. Your
KoUy raised himself painfully to
an elbow. "Where — where?"
"Right here, Kelly. We had a
difficult time locating you. Sure, we
forgive you. You were trying to do
what was right. We know that."
"There's nothing - — nothing — - "
*'You'rc wrong. The Crew's here
and we're waiting."
He stared at the rock. He put his
face against it and pushed his
hands to it. There was a kind of
dull glow in it, a faint hint of
warmth in the rock.
*'How can this be?" Kelly said.
"This is the life here, Kelly. Per-
haps there is life everywhere in the
most impossible seeming places.
And where life is, Kelly, we can
live with it and be welcomed by it.
Here, this rock is life, and it has
taken us in. It has been here a long
time. And it will be here for a much
"Rock," Kelly said.
"But hurry and come back."
"But no one will ever know.
How long — how long can wc wait?"
"Who can answer that, Kelly?
But maybe they will find the Grew
Kelly looked up once at the com-
pletely unfamiliar distances grow-
ing darker. Sometime, he thought,
they'll come from wherever Earth
is and find the Crew of the ship,
find a rock here waiting the ages
His head dropped against the
rock. His hands slid down it, and a
smile moved over his lips and froze
there as the wind whispered over it.
• • • THE END
What Is Your Science I.Q.?
LET'S FACE IT, the scienre fiction writers take it for grantecl
that you are familiar with the terms they sprinkle through their
stories so generously. But do you really know what tliey are talk-
ing about? Let's pin you down; see how many of the questions
below you can answer correctly. Each correct answer counts five;
70 is good, 80 is very good, and over 85 makes you a whizz!
L A distance of approximately 62001 light years is called a
2. In which constellation is the star Bctelgcuse located?
3. The ability to move matter through force of mind only is
4. Which planet takes 68,7 days to travel around the sun?
5. The point at which all molecular motion ceases is known
theoretically as , __^.
6. Which of the planets is the hottest in the solar system?
7. The moon is in apogee when it is from the sun.
8. In what year was the cyclotron invented?
9. Ariel, Umbricl, Titania and Oberon are the four satellites
10. Approximately how many light years from Earth is the North
1 1. Pluto, Mercury and are the only planets in our solar
system that have no satellites.
12. Which element is 14^ times lighter than air?
13. A day on Jupiter is as long as a day on Earth.
14. What term do we use to describe the biological alteration
of a species of living organism?
15. The star . - sends out 160 times more light than the sun.
16. At approximately how many miles an hour does the sun move
17. The Coalsack region is a nonluminous or dark nebula in
the „ ,
18. Which is the third largest planet in our solar system?
19. A comet consists of a nucleus, a , and a tail.
20. We know Atlantis is a supposedly sunken continent in the
Atlantic; what is the name of the continent that is supposed
to have sunk in the Pacific?
Trading with Mr. Wetzle, whose fright chemistry was
peculiarly akin to that of a good old American skunk,
was dangerous business. However, Sammy had prin-
ciples and nobody — and no aroma! — was going to
shake him from them.
By Theodore R. Cogswell
Illustrated by Ed Emsh
LIKE SAMMY said, even if it
was only a hole in the wall, it
was his drugstore; and if any
gonifT from the Anti-Martian
League thought he was going to
tell him how to run his business,
he had another think coming.
His wife Sarah wasn't seeing
eye to eye with him. It wasn't be-
cause she was eighty pounds heavi-
er and a foot taller than he was,
it was simply that every time
Sammy got his back up, some-
body got hurt — and it was usually
"Last time you said that it was
to that nice young man from the
Merchants Protective Association
who wanted you to take out in-
surance on the new store. And
what happened? Three times in
two weeks hoodlums break in and
smash things up."
"I got my principles," said
"Yeah," said Sarah, "princi-
ples! Ten years we save so that
yoxi, a registered pharmacist, a
man who placed third on the
state boards, should have a big
place you could be proud of in-
stead of a dirty little hole like this.
Wc finally get it and what hap-
pens? You got principles and the
bank has Rosen's Cut-Rate Drugs.
Now we're starting over again,
business ain't too bad, already
we've been able to put away a lit-
THEODORE R. COGSWELL
tie for a rainy day, and you and
your principtes want to start
"Trouble I don't want," said
Sammy. "Trouble I've never want-
ed, I'm a peace loving man. But I
got my rights. Sammy Rosen isn't
going to let himself be shoved
around by nobody."
"Who's getting shoved? So ya
sign a paper. Maybe you're going to
drop dead, you should sign a pa-
per? O'Reilly next door, he's not
doing business because he signed a
paper? Ail of Fourth Avenue and
you're the only one that's got to be
"What should O'Reilly know
about principles? Eight years now
he's been having the same fire sale.
Sign the paper, NO! There will be
no sign in my window saying that
Martians, will not be served here."
Sarah sighed in exasperation.
"That green fur-ball comes here
maybe two three times a week to
buy a nickle's worth of candy. For
that business you should maybe get
a brick through the window like
last time? You sign the paper so
we should keep out of trouble and
next time he comes in you tell him
he should go buy his candy some-
place else and not get honest people
"You order some more chocolate
syrup?" asked Sammy. "Last time
I checked we were getting low."
"Don't change the subject. That
man said he would be back In ten
"So he wants to come back, he
can come back. It's a free world."
Mr. Suggs was back in six min-
utes. He was a large man and the
conservative business suit he wore
didn't harmonize well with the bulk
of his shoulders, his cauliflower
cars, or the generally battered ap-
pearance of his fat face.
"Afternoon, Mr. Rosen," he
boomed. "Lovely day, ain't it. Xind
of weather that makes a man glad
he's alive and healthy. Right?"
"Right," said Sammy with a
touch of uneasiness.
The big man opened his brief-
case and took out a legal looking
"Now that you've had time to
think it over, I know you've come
to see things our way. Just sign here
and you'll be a member in good
standing of the Anti-Martian
League just like everybody else
Drawing himself up to his full
five feet two, Sammy shoved the
paper away and said with all the
firmness he could master, "Any-
body wants to buy something in my
store, that's what I got it for. All
kinds of people come in here. I
should start putting signs up this
one can't come in because he don't
vote the way I do and that one
can't come in because he calls his
god a difTerent name than I do, and
pretty soon there's so many sif^ns in
the window that the sun can't get
in and the only customer I got left
is my.self." He paused for breath
and gave the document another
shove. "Sammy Rosen's name don't
go down on nothing like that!"
"Listen, punk," growled the big
man, and then suddenly caught
himself. "Listen, Mr. Rosen, I
agree with you a hundred percent.
But what you're talking about are
humans. Martians ain't."
"Human or Martian, a customer
THE BIG STINK
is a customer. What's where a cus-
tomer comes from got to do with
my doing business with him? I go
to pay my rent I don't have to fill
out a paper saying where I got each
The big man snorted in disgust.
"So that's it. You little guys are all
alike. You like to talk about prin-
ciples but what you're really afraid
of is losing a nickel. Well suppose I
fix things so that by joining the
League you make yourself a nice
chunk of change on the deal?"
Without waiting for Sammy's
answer, he opened his briefcase
again and took out a small vial and
placed it on the counter. Samnny
looked at it questioningly.
"Maybe this will make you
change your mind," said the big
"What is it?"
"A full ounce of Venusian
Sammy's eyebrows went up and
he whistled in spile of himself. Like
everybody else he had heard of the
fabulously expensive scent for men
put out by the House of Arnett, a
perfume that had such a powerful
emotional effect on members of the
opposite sex that for years there
had been some talk in the World
Congress of banning it.
"That's worth five thousand
smackers on the wholesale market,"
said the big man. "Just put your
John Henry down here and it's
"He'll sign!" said Sarah quickly.
She turned fiercely on her husband.
"You heard what the man said —
five thousand dollars! With that we
can get out of this hole in the wall
and have a decent place again.
Think of it, Sammy, a big place on
the corner with a neon sign six feet
high blinking out ROSEN'S CUT-
RATE DRUGS in red and green
The picture hit Sammy hard. He
closed his eyes, the better to vis-
ualize the glorious sight. Like a
man in a trance his hand reached
out slowly for the fat-bellied foun-
tain pen that Mr. Suggs was hold-
ing out to him.
"You'll never regret this, Rosen.
You're the last place within twenty
blocks of the spaceport that hasn't
signed. With the neighborhood one
hundred percent against them,
those stinking greenies are going to
feel so unpopular that they'll have
to pack up and go home."
Sammy hesitated and then
picked up the contract and scanned
"There's an awful lot of small
print here," he said.
"It's all on the up-and-up," said
the big man. "All that it boils down
to Is that you agree not to have no
truck with any Martians that hap-
pen to come around. It's for your
own protection. If we don't put
that bunch in their place, pretty
soon Earth will be swarming with
those little stinkers."
"Maybe so," muttered Sammy,
"but five thousand bucks just so I
don't sell a couple of nickels worth
of candy, that don't make sense."
"It doesn*t have to," said Mr.
Suggs. "Like you said yourself,
when you go to pay your rent no-
body's asking where the money
came from . You want to kee p
Earth safe for Earthmen, you sign.
Any time a Martian lands, he's put
in Coventry. Nobody talks to him,
nobody does business with him, no-
body even lets on he exists. Under
the treaty the World Government
made after the first landing on
Mars, we can't keep them from
coming here. But there's nothing in
the law that says we got to make
them welcome. This here contract
is just a legal gentleman's agree-
ment that — "
"A legal gentleman's agree-
Sammy's eyes were blazing.
"What's eating you?" demanded
Suggs. "What did I say?"
"Enough! Enough to bring me
to my senses. And for a fistful of
dirty dollars I, Sammy Rosen, was
going to be a part of it." He spat
"Now listen here!"
"I don't listen to nothing. Get
out of my store before I call a cop!"
The big man turned to Sarah.
"Can't you reason with him,
She took one look at her hus-
band's tight-lipped face and
shrugged her shoulders hopelessly.
"Not when he's like that."
"You don't listen to nothing, eh,
Rosen? We'll see about that." He
picked up his briefcase and the per-
fume and started toward the door.
When he reached it he turned.
"You're going to find out what a
stinker a Martian can really be.
And when you do, you're going to
be happy to sign — for nothing!"
SAMMY SLEPT in the store that
night but nobody tried to break
in and no bricks came crashing
THEODORE R. COGSWELL
through the windows. When Sarah
arrived with his breakfast, he was
in a slightly happier mood.
"See," he said, "no trouble."
Sarah didn't say anything. Sam-
my was about to receive the silent
treatment. Just after she left and he
had settled down in his old rocker
at the rear of the store to read the
morning paper, he heard the tinkle
of the customer bell from the front.
When he saw nobody standing on
the other side of the counter he
knew who had come in. He leaned
over the showcase and looked
down at the little foot-high ball of
green fur that was bouncing up and
down in front of the candy case.
When it saw him it piped in a flut-
tering flute-like voice, "A thousand
greetings, egg-mother. May your
fwentok never lose its rotundity and
your gertlings embrace all eternity."
"Mazel-tov yourself, Mr. Wet-
zle," said Sammy politely. "Nice
day, isn't it."
"For Marslings the response is in
the negative. Tomorrow is our last
"Business isn't so good?"
"Business isn't. The streets are
full of signs saying here we cannot
enter, and the buyers who come to
our ship look at our holds of dried
keera berries and laugh or say an-
gry words and depart without buy-
"Things'U get better," said Sam-
my comfortingly. "They're bound
"Is not better, egg-mother, is
sadness and departing. In the com-
ing there were bouncings of happi-
ness and singings in the compan-
ionways because now we were free
of the Company and there would
THE BIG STINK
we no more horrors for our folklings
from the dwirtles in the trading
shed. Six of your years my peoples
had worked to save enough of the
green earth paper to charter the
ship that brought us. We were
thinkings that because the Com-
pany prized the berries that here
they would be prized too. But it is
not so and now we must return to
tell our peoples that we have found
only faihires. The Company will be
angry because we came and now
they will ask more and give less.
And no protest will be made, for
without the pumps and other ma-
chine things we get from them to
bring the water up from the deep
wells there would come again the
great hunger that was on us before
the earthman came."
"There must be some way out,"
said Sammy. "These berries, maybe
if you took them to a good chemist
he could find out what they were
"This we did," said the little
Martian. "And after waiting came
a long report full of big words
which said in many different ways
was usefulness nothing." He paused
and ruffled his silky green fur. "But
you have been my friend and it is
not kind to be casting on your
jwentok our troubles. My coming
this day was to say farewell and
blessings." He hesitated a moment.
"And if you'll forgiving, to ask a
question which is giving deep both-
"Yes?" said Sammy.
**Why for four little Mars peoples
could there be such a closing of
stores against us and a putting of
signs in windows?"
"You've got me," said Sammy.
*'There's an organization behind it,
a big one, and they're spending a
lot of money, a whole lot of
money." He thought wistfully of
the vanished five thousand dollars
and what he could have done with
it and then made a determined ef-
fort to banish the thought from his
head. Reaching down, he slid open
the door on the candy case.
"What'll you have this morning,
"Nothings," said the little Mar-
tian sadly. "The last of my earth
coins are gone and in my pouch
now is nothings but valueless keera
berries.'* He bounced almost to the
front door and then turned. "Of
you, egg-mother, there will be fond
memories. Blessings and farewell."
"Wait," said Sammy impulsively,
and reaching into the candy case
he filled a small sack with an as-
sortment of licorice whips, lemon
drops, green leaves, bubble gum,
chocolate malt balls, and jawbreak-
ers of various shapes and colors.
"Here," he said, thrusting the
bag forward. "Take it with you
and eat in good health."
Wetzle eyed the bag wistfully but
didn't come forward to take it.
"I bless your thought, egg-
mother, but to take without pay-
ment cannot be done. Such is the
speaking of the oldsters."
"Who said anything about no
payment," said Sammy. "If those
berries are good enough for that
company on Mars, they ought to be
good enough for Sammy Rosen."
He paused as if he were making a
quick mental computation. "I'd say
there were about ten berries worth
of candies in that sack." He held it
forward again. "Here, take it."
THEODORE R. COGSWELL
"But . . ." protested the Martian.
"No buts," said Sammy firmly. "I
run my business, I set my prices.
Among friends there should be no
The alien hesitated for a moment
and then gave a happy bounce that
took him up on top of the candy
"Your goodness will not be for-
gotten," he said. "Take them all.
For me they have no value."
A small, slit-like opening opened
along his middle and a handful of
small dried berries that looked like
raisins, except for their brilliant
reddish color, tumbled out on the
counter. The slit continued to
widen until a large pouch like
that of a kangaroo was exposed and
Sammy placed the bag of candy in-
The little Martian was half way
through an elaborate expression of
thanks when he was suddenly in-
terrupted by a tapping sound from
the front window. Both he and
Sammy turned to see what was
happening. Their responses to what
they saw were rather different.
In spite of the turned up collar of
his trench coat and the pulled down
brim of his slouch hat, Sammy was
able to identify the man outside as
Suggs, the Anti-Martian League
agent. He was holding a bird cage
in one hand and when he saw them,
looking at him he held it up so they
could see what was inside.
Hanging almost motionless on
two pairs of tiny fan-like wings was
a tiny reptile with a long jeweled
beak and glittering scales that sent
flashes of sunlight into the store.
Sammy stared at it with a sudden
lump in his throat. He had never
seen anything so beautiful in his
Wetzle was staring too, but not in
"Make him take it away, egg-
mother, or something terrible will
And just then something did.
Suggs turned the cage so that the
little flying reptile could look in the
window. When it saw Wetzle it let
out a sudden .sharp scream of rage
and threw itself against the bars
with a violent beating of wings, a
long dagger-like tongue darting in
and out of its beak. The Martian
let out a squawk of hysterical fright
and flattened down on top of the
showcase like a semi-collapsed foot-
ball. Simultaneously a ring of tiny
hose-like members erected them-
selves through his fur and shot a
fine spray up into the air. Since
Sammy was only two feet away, he
got the full and immediate benefit
The stench was horrible, so hor-
rible as to make the protective scent
employed by skunks seem to be at-
tar of roses in comparison, and so
strong that for a moment Sammy
was too stunned to react to it.
When he finally did he staggered
back drunkcnly, clapping both
hands over nose and mouth in a
vain effort to keep it out. His
stomach heaved once, and then
twice, and he made a sudden dive
for the back room and made the
Unheeded, the man in the trench
coat climbed into a car that was
parked nearby, placed the cage on
the scat beside him, and drove
slowly away, a satisfied smile on his
THE BIG STINK
TEN MINUTES later Sammy
staggered back into the front of
the store and collapsed into an old
wicker chair he kept behind the
counter. He'd finally adjusted to
the stench to the point where each
breath didn't threaten immediate
nausea but he was barely able to
hold his own.
"What happened, Wetzle," he
The little Martian hadn't moved.
He still crouched on top of the
showcase, trembling half in fright
and half in mortification.
"The dwirtle, the thing in the
cage, made me do it," he said mis-
"But it wasn't hurting you!"
"Martian people have what you
call built-in defendabic mecha-
nism," explained Wetzle in a quav-
ering voice. "When dwirtie is com-
mencing hunger dance the squirters
goes psssst for life-saving. This
dwirtle is killer bird, most danger-
ous thing on Mars, It stabs with
tongue and is murder. Only spray
from head things can drive it away.
If I could have made control, it
would not have happened, but
head things are not part of think-
er, they go off by themselves when
dwirtles come." He let out the Mar-
tian equivalent of a lugubrious sigh.
"But though unwilling, I have
brought upon my friends fwentok
great sorrow and for this I must
make expiation. I now turn off my
The three air sacks that were
spaced equidistantly around Wet-
zle's body stopped their pulsing and
in a nnatter of seconds a glaze be-
gan to steal over his eyes.
When Sammy realized what was
happening, he let out a horrified
"For Pete's sake, Wetzle, don't! I
got enough troubles without having
suicides in my shop yet."
The little Martian didn't seem to
hear. The light of life had almost
flickered out when Sammy grabbed
him and started to shake him vio-
''Listen, dumpkof. To die isn't
helping things, it will only make
matters worse for me. Your — your
death will be on my fwentok." That
did it. Wetzle gave a sudden gasp
and his air sacks began to pump
"Now look," said Sammy sternly.
"It wasn't your fault, you couldn't
help it. You just sit there and don't
do nothing while I try and figure
out some way to get rid of this
The first and obvious thing to do
was to open the front door and air
the shop out. This he did and
turned on the large overhead fan to
speed things up a bit.
As the Martian protective odor
billowed out into the street, there
were immediate violent protests
from the neighbors. O'Reilly came
charging over from the furniture
store next door to see what was the
matter, only to skid to a halt when
the full force of the stench hit his
"Hey, Rosen!" he shouted after
he had lelrealed to a safe distance,
"What's going on over there? You
got my store stunk up so bad that
all my customers are nmning out!"
Sammy hesitated, looked at Wet-
zle who was still hunched up mis-
erably on the counter, and came to
a sudden decision. The Martians
THEODORE R. COGSWELL
were having a tough enough time
of it as it was. Something like this
was ail that was needed to tip the
scales against them completely.
Sammy had known what it was like
to be the underdog and in spite of
what had happened he felt a flush
of sympathy for the unhappy little
"It's nothing, O'Rtilly," he
yelled. "I'm making a little experi-
ment and it's not going just like
the book says. A couple more min-
utes and I'll have everything under
"You'd better be quick about it,"
replied the other angrily, "or you're
going to have a nice law suit on
O'Reilly wasn't the only one who
was objecting. As the stench spread
up and dovMi the street, more and
more stores were involuntarily
evacuated and more and more
voices joined the angry chorus de-
manding that Sammy do something,
and do it right away.
Sammy tried. He tried everything
in his stock of pharmaceuticals
without success and at last was re-
duced to the patent deodorants he
carried in stock. He tried ever>' last
stick, tube, and jar but nothing did
He was just moving toward the
door to confess defeat and ask for
suggestions when he heard the
moan of a police siren coming down
the street. Seconds later a squad-
car came to a screeching stop right
in front of the store. Two police-
men came tumbling out, only to
stumble to a stop and wilt as the
odor hit them. Gagging and hold-
ing their noses, they scrambled back
into their car and Ijacked away un-
til they found a spot where the
stench was semi-bearable.
The driver cranked down his
window a cautious half inch and
shouted a stern warning to the ef-
fect that if Sammy didn't do some-
thing about the disturbance he was
causing, he was going to find him-
self in serious trouble.
"There's nothing I can do,"
shouted Sammy. "I've tried every-
"Then you'd better try something
else," snapped the driver. "You're
maintaining a public nuisance and
if it ain't abated within five min-
utes, I'm going to haul you in."
The ultimatum was greeted by a
ragged cheer from the householders
who had fled the flats above the
stores on each side of Sammy's es-
tablishment. Only one tenant still
remained in her quarters, a retired
burlesque queen who was in the
midst of a prolonged and severe at-
tack of rose fever. Even her swollen
nostrils, however, were able to pick
up enough of the scent to cause her
to lean out her third story window
and shriek somewhat dated but
nevertheless effective obscenities.
With Wetzle looking on helpless-
ly, Sammy made one last desperate
attempt at new deodorant com-
binations, but nothing had any ef-
fect on the horrible miasma that
poured forth from the store. When
five minutes by the store clock had
passed, he appeared in front of his
store, head hanging and feet drag-
ging, to surrender himself to the
Though innocent, Sammy was a
law nbiding citizen. It wasn't his
fault that he wasn't taken into cus-
tody. But he had been thoroughly
THE BIG STINK
saturated by Wetzle's protective
spray and the passing of time
hadn't diminished its potency. As a
result, wherever he went he was
protected by an invisible barrier.
He was only half way to the
squadcar when it suddenly darted
away in reverse. For two blocks he
followed it with the spectators re-
treating sullenly in front of him,
but every time he got within a hun-
dred yards, there would be a sud-
den whine of gears and the car
would roar back to a safe distance.
The two fMDiicemen tried every
way they could think of to take
possession of their prisoner; they
even broke out gas masks but even
these didn't help. At last they gave
xip and drove away to place the
case in the hands of higher authori-
ties, leaving Sammy to trudge back
down the street to his little drug-
store. One hour later the Army an-
nounced that they were moving in.
WHEN SAMMY reached his
store the telephone was ringing
violently. Wearily he lifted it to his
"Mr. Rosen? . . . This is Mr.
Reynolds of the Anti-Martian
Sammy started to explode.
"Look, Rosen," the voice contin-
ued. "Do you or do you not want
to get rid of that stink?"
Sammy suddenly stopped shout-
ing. "Sure I do," he said. "So
"So we can clear the whole thing
Up in a matter of seconds if you'll
"Every time somebody starts
talking cooperation, I g^t more
troubles," said Sammy bitterly.
"The neighbors want I should co-
operate by moving away. The city
wants I should cooperate by going
to jail as a public nuisance. So what
is it you're wanting?"
"A simple statement to the
press," said the voice smoothly. "All
you have to do is to inform the pa-
pers who is really responsible for
what happened. You might suggest
in addition that the Martian was
behaving in a disorderly fashion
and that when you asked him to
leave he responded with an unpro-
voked gas attack."
"If there*s going to be any tell-
ing," said Sammy angrily, **it's go-
ing to be about that bird."
"Don't play dumb. The bird that
muscleman of yours held up to the
"Now, now," said the voice re-
provingly. "You don't actually be-
lieve that anybody is going to ac-
cept such a fantastic story as that,
do you? A bird indeed! And any-
how, we have a dozen reliable wit-
nesses who can testify that our Mr.
Suggs was in Flatbush playing ca-
nasta with an aged aunt at the time
"You're an intelligent man, Mr.
Rosen. Use that intelligence. One
little statement from you and we'll
start decontamination at once. And
what's more, we'll still hold open
the offer that was made to you ear-
"What's perfume got to do with
being Anti-Martian?" demanded
Sammy. "There's something fishy
"The House of Arnett is just one
of the many progressive firms who
THEODORE R. COGSWELL
recognize the Martian danger to
the terrestrial way of life," said
Reynolds smoothly, in fact a shade
iSammy didn't answer. He just
hung up again.
MR. WETZLE," said Sammy at
last, "just sittmg here staring at
each other ain't doing either of us
any good. We got to think our way
out." He picked up one of the red
berries from the little pile on top
of the counter and looked at it re-
"These things, do your people
have any use for them?"
"No, egg-mother," said the little
Martian. "Sometimes the diuirtle
are eating them, but they are not
proper food for Marslings."
Sammy got up from his wicker
chair and began to pace the floor.
He'd never tried to play detective
before and he didn't quite know
how to go about it.
"This company," he said finally,
"how does it work?"
"Isn't much work," said Wetzle.
"Is just giving little bits of machin-
ery for big bags of berries. The
company has a concession for the
whole north part that says no other
Earthmans can come in, but they
have only one station."
"One thing more," said Sammy,
trying to conceal the growing ex-
citement in his voice. "These dwir-
ties, can they eat anything else?"
"All kinds of things," said Wet-
zle. "But best of all they like Mars
peoples like me.**
Sammy's face fell. "That was a
blind alley. I thought for a moment
that maybe the company was rais-
ing them for something or other
and buying berries for feed."
"I think not," volunteered the
little Martian. "There are some
dwirtles at the trading station but
not lots. They are kept in cages like
the small yellow birds you have on
earth. The chief trading man is a
lover of dzvirtles. We are many
times asking for him not to keep
them in the trading sheds so as not
to give us bad frights when we
bring in berries, but he is a terrible
man. He stands and makes laugh-
ter when the dwirtles start their
dance and we fall down in fright
and our sprayers go off."
"He must nnt be able to smell so
good," said Sammy. "Begging your
pardon, Mr. Wetzle. but a stink
like yon let out ain't no cause for
"He's not in the trading slied.
He stands behind a big glass win-
dow and talks to us through a radio
Sammy sat and thought about
that for a while and then shook his
head in a bewildered fashion.
"X don't get it," he said dolefully,
"I just don't get it." He looked
dawn at the little red berry he held
in his hand and then bit into it
cautiously. It had a harsh bitter
flavor that made him spit in distaste
and throw the rest of the berry
across the room. The bitter taste
remained and caused his mouth to
pucktr slightly. He went back and
rinsed his mouth out with water
but that didn't do any good either.
"I know one thing that will kill
it," he said. "And I need a drink
anyway." Out of habit he looked
around cautiously and then pulled
a bottle of vodka out of a cabinet
THE BIG STINK
where he had it safely hidden from
"Here's mud in your eyes," he
said and took down a thimbleful!.
The results were so pleasing that he
And then something happened.
He sniffed. And then sniffed
again. Against the swirling over-
tones of the pervading stench,
something else was coming through.
"Do you sinell sometliing, Wet-
zle?" he asked.
"Regretful, egg-mother/' said the
little green fur ball, "But Martian
peoples have no- smellers."
"That makes sense," said Sam-
my, and sniffed again. It was defi-
' nitely stronger now, a sharp mascu-
line fragrance like nothing he'd
ever smelled before. It seemed to
have a definite source but for a mo-
ment he couldn't locate it. When he
did he was thunderstruck. It was
coming from his own mouth.
It took him a couple of hours of
trial and error before he got what
he wanted, but Sammy hadn't
passed third on the state pharma-
ceutical boards for nothing. First
there was careful grinding of the
berries with a mortar and pestal,
then maceration in a solution which
contained the same enzymes as nor-
mal saliva, and then finally reaction
with a concentrated solution of
"We've got .it, Wetzle," he said
quietly, holding up a beaker of a
fjale pink solution. "We've got it at
"Got what," asked the little Mar-
tian in bewilderment.
"The reason for both our trou-
bles," be said as he began to sprin-
kle the liquid around the store.
*'Think about it. Go ask yourself
why a big outfit like the Antx-
Martjan League should be set up
just to make you unhappy enough
to go back home."
As he talked the solution evapo-
rated. As it did and came in contact
with the tiny droplets of the Mar-
tian's defensive liquid that hung
suspended in the air and coated all
the exposed surfaces in the store, an
intricate chemical transformation
took place. In a matter of seconds
the horrible stench had disap-
peared, leaving in its place a strange
exciting fragrance that grew strong-
er and stronger until at last, much
as he enjoyed it, Sammy's head
started reeling and he felt an urgent
desire for fresh air. Rushing to the
door, he threw it open and stood
in the entrance inhaling deep
breaths of tainted air which auto-
matically became perfumed as they
touched his lips.
At each end of the street there
was a fire line, and behind the
ropes stood his erstwhile neighbors.
When they saw him they started
in howling again, and in spite of
the half-hearted efforts of the po-
lice, bottles, rocks, and sundry blunt
objects began to fly through the air
in his direction. Momentarily, that
is, for as the new scent spread out
through his door and down the
street, a change came over the
crowd. The shouting subsided to a
puzzled muttering, and then as the
odor became stronger, part of the
populace began to react in a de-
cidedly abnormal manner.
The first to break through the
ropes was the retired burlesque
"I gotta be loved!" she whooped.
THEODORE R. COGSWELL
and dodging through the police cor-
don, came pelting down the street
toward Sammy. The other females
in the crowd weren't long in fol-
lowing suit and Sammy saw a del-
uge of women of all shapes and
ages come screaming toward him
from both directions, each chanting
her own variation of the mating
call. Almost too late he scooted back
into the store, slamming down the
heavy grill work that protected win-
dows and door as he did so.
"That's potent stuff," he wheezed
as he collapsed into his old wicker
chair. "I can see now why so much
pressure was put on to run you off
Wetzle gave the triple twitch that
was the standard Martian gesture
"In this small head is confused
thinking, egg-mother," he said.
"Would you be -md kindly as to make
"Later. Right now I got to figure
some way to clear the air. My wife
Sarah ain't going to like this sud-
den popularity of mine."
The clearing was relatively sim-
ple. After a few minutes of tinker-
ing Sammy made the pleasant dis-
covery that the new scent was sus-
ceptible to several of the standard
deodorants and before long both
the store and its owner had lost the
provocative fragrance that had
been causing chaos in the street
"And now," said Sammy with a
heartfelt sigh of relief, "I think
maybe w-e can talk a little business."
When they were through Sammy
picked up the phone and dialed a
*'Anti-Martian League,'* said a
voice from the other end.
"I want to talk to Reynolds."
"I'm very sorry but he's in con-
ference. If you'll leave your name,
I'll have him call you as soon as
said Sammy sternly. "You tell him
Rosen is on the phone and wants
to talk to him right now."
Three seconds later he heard the
"We've been expecting to hear
from you, Mr. Rosen. I assume
you're ready to release that state-
ment to the press?"
"You mean you ain't heard?"
"About me going into a new
"Now, Mr. Rosen," said Rey-
nolds soothingly, "that won*t be
necessary. We did have to get a bit
rough to bring you to your senses,
but we'll make up for it. That offer
of a flask of Venusian Leather is
"That's awfully kind of you,"
said Sammy, "but me and Wetzle
have been talking things over and
we decided that we ain't going to
let nobody push us around. The
reason I called was to ask if maybe
your conscience wasn't bothering
you enough for you to come over
and clean up the mess you caused
"Are you saying that you still
won't give in?" Reynolds sounded
"That's right," said Sammy.
A staccato burst of profanity
came from the phone and then a
series of reflections upon Sammy's
THE BIG STINK
antecedents that lasted a good three
minutes. Sammy waited patiently
until the other ran out of breath
and then continued:
*'That was pretty good, but it's
nothing to what you're going to
hear when your boss finds out that
his attempts to run Wetzle and his
friends back to Mars by setting up
a phony league have backfired in
his face. You see, in trying to get
rid of the big stink Wetzle made, I
found out something that the
House of Arnett spent a lot of
money to keep secret — what goes
into Venusian Leather. He paused
for a minute to let what he had just
said Mnk in. "Right now youVe
talking to one half of the firm of
Rosen and Wetzle, cut-rate per-
fumers, manufacturers and sole
distributors of 'Martian Leather,'
the new perfume for men. You'll be
seeing our slogan around once we
get our advertising campaign going.
It's 'Twice The Strength For Half
Galloping sounds came from the
other end of the line as if Reynolds
had suddenly taken to running
across the ceiling.
It was Sammy's turn to adopt a
soothing tone of voice.
"There, there," he said. "Sammy
Rosen ain't the man to hold a
grudge. I know that your League
is going to be jerked out from un-
der you as soon as old man Arnett
hears the news, but I want you
should know that you and your
Mr. Suggs can always have a job
with us. Wetzle and I are going to
need a couple of men to take care
of the collecting once we set up our
new trading station on Mars. "Of
course you won't have an air-tight
glass cage to operate from, but it'll
be a living."
"And that," said Sammy happily
as he hung up the phone, "takes
care of that. Capital won't be any
problem, but we got one more
thing we got to figure out before
we can go into production. We've
got to find some way to get our raw
materials without scaring your peo-
ple half to death every time we want
to make a collection."
"Is full simplicity," said Wetzle,
proud to be able to make a contri-
bution at last. "An up like this,"
the tiny tubes rose up through his
fur, "a little muscles squeezing like
this, and — "
"DON'T!" screamed Sammy.
He was too late.
• • • THE END
WHAT IS YOUR SCIENCE I.Q.?
HERE are the answers to the Science Quiz on page 103.
How many did you get right? I — kiloparsec. 2 — Orion. 3 —
telekinesis. 4 — Mars. 5 — absolute zero. 6 — Mercury. 7 —
farthest. 8— 1931.9— Uranus. 10-^00. U— Venus. 12~hy-
drogen. 13— one-half. 14 — mutadon. 15 — Aldebran. 16 —
600,000. 17— Milky Way. 18— Neptune. 19— coma. 20—
Winged Autos — Cars that look like
planes aren't just a science fiction
dream. General Motors has been
testing a gas turbine auto that has
a vertical tail fin, swept back delta
wings and brake flaps on the wings
to supplement the wheel brakes.
"Fish Cakes"— The latest in "fish
stories" is a synthetic egg white
made from fish waste. Tests have
shown that cakes baked with this
substitute ingredient are as good as
those made with real eggs. Not the
slightest "fishy" taste either-
Electric Fly "Chair" — If bugs keep
building up resistance to insecti-
cides, we may have to electrocute
them. A new fly trap docs just that.
Plug it into a household circuit and,
after luring the flics with a sweet
scent, the trap electrocutes tlicm
and then automatically conceals
the dead carcasses in a container.
"Miracle" Clothes — You may soon
be wearing clothes made of a radi-
cally new kind of yarn. Under tests
this synthetic has been boiled in
acids and baked at 400 degrees for
days without harming a single
thread. But don't plan a new ward-
robe just yet; industry has first call
on this particular miracle.
Wind vs. Coal — A landscape cov-
ered with huge windmills may seem
rather anachronistic, but British
scientists are working toward just
such a goal. They are testing proto-
types that will harness wind power
to supplement coal powered sta-
tions. An average wind velocity of
20-pIus miles an hour would pro-
duce power equal to that of coal
and would do it as cheaply.
Noise Killer — Loud nerve-wrack-
ing noises may soon be completely
stilled, A new electronic device con-
sisting of a microphone amplifier
and loudspeaker feedback system is
in test stages now. Attached to the
headrest of a plane seat it can re-
duce to a whisper the low beat of
the engines near a passenger's ear.
Adaptation for use on factory ma-
chines is a simple matter of instal-
Scientific Semantics — Breaking the
language barrier has been tried be-
fore with Esperanto, Ido, and Basic
English. But the new scientific
"supranational" Interlingua is
spreading so fast that it may well
accomplish that semantic under-
standing which has been sought for
Bacteria vs. Life — We're on tlie
road to a world devoid of bacteria,
but scientists aren't happy about it
at all. Large forest areas are drying
out and land is becoming sterile be-
cause of the extinction of bacteria
that make life-giving humus. In
some places the desert is encroach-
ing so fast that the process can be
"Everlosting" Battery — After four
years of secret military production,
an "everlasting" battery will soon
be available. Using nickel cadmium
cells in an alkaline solution, the bat-
tery is invulnerable to shock and
vibration, works at temperatures of
minus 65 to plus 165 degrees, and
resists overcharging, reverse charg-
ing and short circuiting. It will
even outlast the car.
Insecticide "Injections" — Trees of
of the future may be able to kill off
their own particular insect enemies.
Tests on the African Gold Coast
have proved that when certain in-
secticides are saturated into the
soil around a tree, they are ab-
sorbed through the roots, and car-
ried throughout the entire circula-
tory system. When insects attack
the tree they die. Simple, isn't it?
Mars and Saucers — The Air Force
has found that "saucer" stories are
always more frequent when Mars
is "close" to the Earth. Since Mars
will be closer in 1954 and 1956
than it has been in the last 15 years,
a system of cameras has been set up
around the U.S. to clear up the
mystery once and for all.
Sea Farmers — The continents and
islands of this planet have been dis-
solving into the sea for eonsj so
much so that future generations
may find that the mineral, animal
and plant resources of the sea,
which have been nourished by this
"land loss", are the only ones avail-
able for practical consideration.
Climate For Mars — Astronauts are
seriously thinking of tampering
with the planets to provide Mars
with an atmosphere and climate
suitable for terrestrials. Jupiter's
sixth planet, which is thought to
be an ice mass, could be made to
intercept the orbit of Mars and so
provide some 10,000 million tons
of water necessary to the produc-
tion of oxygen by photosynthesis.
Heort Revivor — A "spark plug"
that stimulates the heart-beat and
can literally bring a patient back to
life without benefit of surgery is be-
ing perfected. We can look forward
to the day when doctors, going on
house calls, will not only carry
medicines in their little black bags,
but will also have a compact, inex-
pensive heart stimulator for emer-
Paper Snow Fences — Highway snow
fences made of paper are not a
mad impractical dream. Tests
made in Michigan have shown
that paper fences are as effective as
wooden-slat fences in stopping
snow from drifting across highways.
Ocean Radioactives — We may be
mining the oceans for radioactives
in the future. Oceanographers have
found a heat flow from the ocean
bottom equal to that caused by
radioactive elements on high and
Save Your Pans — The lady of the
house will be pleased to know that
scorched and burned pots and. bak-
ing pans will soon be a thing of the
past. A plastic coating of polytetrar
fluoroethylene on cooking utensils
will save the day.
Tornado Destroyer — The loss of
billions of dollars and thousands of
lives from destructive tornados
may sonneday be expunged from
the records. Scientists believe that
a guided missile with an a-bomb
warhead could be steered into a
baby tornado by radar to destroy it
before it could get started on a
really destructive rampage devas-
tating the countryside.
"lON-Conditioning" — Rooms of
the future may well be "ion-condi-
tioned" as well as air-conditioned
to help combat disease and fatigue.
Tests at Stanford Medical Center
have shown that an atmosphere
rich in positive ion charge is de-
bilitating, while a negative charge
is extremely beneficial to comfort
and healtli, and aids immeasurably
in disease resistance.
A CHAT WITH THE EDITOR
(Continued frain page 3)
servation planes or any other avail-
able craft, often flying In open
cockpits in the face o f sub-zero
weather and storms of sleet and ice
and snow — and they smashed up
all over the map of the United
States. By March of 1934 the Ad-
ministration realized it had made a
colossal boner and gave the mail
contracts back to the private air-
lines. It was an absurd, costly ex-
periment but it proved the human
clement to be strong and coura-
geous and capable. And, to me it
seems, one of the most dram,atic
chapters in the annals of the Army
Air Force was written dxiring these
But the drama of Lindbergh's
flight had touched off the spark.
Within a few years air travel be-
came routine. People no longer
gawked at the sound of a motor
roaring overhead. Since then mili-
tary planes have been going higher
and faster every day. Civilian air
transportation has been made safer,
faster and more luxurious. Today,
out on the Pacific coast, the ulti-
mate in air travel is almost ready
for test flight. Boeing Airplane
Company is now putting the finish-
ing touches on a sky giant designed
to become the first jet plane to fly
the Atlantic non-stop. It will carry
80 to 100 passengers and will make
the trip at a leisurely average of 550
miles per hour, or about six hours
for the crossing! Look for it in the
headlines around August or Sep-
Incidentally, if you want to do
some easy "boning up" on early
aviation, get a copy of Wings Over
America by Harry Bruno (pub-
lished in 1942) and have a lot of
fun. Harry Bruno grew up with all
the heroes and characters and
"drum beaters" of the early days of
aviation and his story, void of de-
tails or technical angles, is a simple,
straight-forward narrative chock
full of the people and events that
preceded the world of aviation we
So, in these old stories, written
during the birth pangs of aviation,
is portrayed the human element —
the curious, reckless men, with an
insatiable appetite for adventure,
who were the instruments and
guinea pigs of modern flight — the
kind who will pioneer the space
flight of tomorrow. — jlq
MOONQUAKES — This huge fissure trapping o luckless operator and his
tractor is the result of a Moonquake. The dry crust of the Moon, which
burned itself out countless centuries ago, is susceptible to mony treacherous
changes which could snuff out men, mochmery and entire boses in an instant.
In oddition to the quake menace, there are probably large oreos where
travel would be dangerous because of thin crusts of dust and rock conceding
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